Protecting Our Children: Understanding and Preventing Opioid Overdose

We have partnered with Lakeview Center to bring relevant and important information to Pensacola Mom Collective readers through this sponsored post.

The death of a child is a pain like no other. Moms will do anything to protect their children, but today’s moms are faced with a new danger – opioid use and overdose.

Northwest Florida ranks high in opioid-related deaths compared to the rest of Florida. Families of all societal levels and kids, from babies to teenagers, are impacted. Unfortunately, many children and young adults are trying opioids and dying from fatal overdoses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths among youth ages 10 to 19 are increasing. Counterfeit pills were present in 25% of reported deaths, meaning kids thought they were taking something safe given to them by a friend or classmate but accidentally ingested a more deadly substance.

Talk to your child about the dangers of taking pills from a classmate or friend. Being aware of your environment can help keep babies and toddlers safe from exposure.

Understanding opioids and how they work is important to keeping your child safe.

Know who to call if you witness an overdose, and learn the steps you can take to prevent a fatal overdose.

A mother hugging her teen daughter. They both appear serious and sad.

How Fentanyl Works

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. One dose
the size of a grain of salt can be lethal, so fentanyl can’t be detected simply by looking at a pill.

Some opioids are taken for legitimate reasons, like pain control, when recovering from surgery. But too often, people become addicted to opioids, taking them even after their prescription has ended – maybe getting them from a friend or family member.

Drug traffickers use inconsistent amounts of fentanyl to increase volume and make more money. The only way to know for certain that an opioid does not contain fentanyl is to get it through a prescription directly from a legitimate pharmacy.

Can Fentanyl Be Absorbed Through the Skin or by Touching an Item or Surface Where It Is Present?

Simply touching fentanyl on its own won’t lead to overdose. While fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, this would happen only with constant, direct contact over several hours – which is why law enforcement invests in special equipment to detect fentanyl and keep their team members safe.

You should still avoid touching fentanyl.

If you think you might have touched fentanyl, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible. Avoid touching your face, especially the eyes, nose, or mouth. Also, if fentanyl has been mixed with alcohol, street drugs, or other substances – which happens often – it can readily be absorbed through the skin, so always handle these with caution.

Young children should be supervised closely. Children can be at risk if they touch a powder or liquid left on a surface and then put their hands in their mouths. Or they may pick up and swallow a pill left out on a counter. If you are a mom of young children, be aware of family and friends who might use opioids. If you are suspicious, keep your child out of those environments.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2023 that opioids were the most common substances contributing to fatal poisonings among young children.

Who to Call if Witnessing an Overdose

If you or one of your child’s friends witnesses an overdose, call 911. It’s important to know about the Good Samaritan Law. This law protects a person from arrest, even if they are in possession of an illicit drug when reporting overdose. Don’t hesitate to save a life. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is an important and lifesaving one to share with your children and their friends.

How You Can Prevent Fatal Overdose

Just like you keep a first-aid kit in your car or medicine cabinet, have NARCAN® on hand in case of overdose. NARCAN reverses and blocks the effects of opioids and restores normal breathing to the person experiencing overdose. It can be obtained free from the Lakeview Center Pharmacy. If you have to use NARCAN, follow up with a call to 911 for emergency care. Another name for Narcan is Naloxone.

As a mom, it’s terrifying to think your child might be at risk. However, it’s most important to be prepared. Please don’t assume your child would never try an illicit substance. Children’s and young adults’ minds are in a developmental stage. They like to explore, but one pill can kill.

In addition to loving and supporting your child, the best way to parent before overdose is to be informed.

In Pensacola, Lakeview Center’s OPUS program (Overdose Prevention Underlying Services) is a great resource. A team of experts leads this opioid prevention program, and they are willing to answer all your questions. Reach out to the team for NARCAN or support at 850-595-0176.

Lakeview logo

Lakeview Center provides comprehensive behavioral health care to adults and children with
mental illnesses, drug and alcohol dependencies, and intellectual disabilities. Across Northwest Florida, services range from residential treatment to outpatient counseling, psychiatry, trauma care, treatments for substance misuse, and 24/7 support for those with serious mental illnesses. Lakeview Center has been a trusted partner since 1954 and last year served more than 27,000 people in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
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