A Deadly Opioid Has Turned Teenage Experimentation Into Russian Roulette

“You have kids who are taking one pill and dying,” says Emily Green of The Lund Report.

A student at Harmony Academy, a high school for teens in recovery, told The Lund Report he didn't realize he was smoking fentanyl until his parent had him tested. He thought the pills he was buying were oxycodone. (Emily Green)

I often think that I was lucky to have made it through my teens and 20s mostly unscathed.

I was a very enthusiastic, maybe dangerously enthusiastic, experimental drug user and a very committed party girl. Many times I popped a weird pill or smoked a weird bowl or even sniffed a weird dust handed to me by someone I barely knew or just met or only trusted because we had like, two acquaintances in common. In the ’90s and early aughts, it was never in the front of my mind, except for maybe in the case of heroin or crack, that a little light experimentation might result in immediate death.

But things have changed.

Nowadays, not only is an Oregon teenager’s first dalliance with drugs very likely to secretly contain the deadly opioid fentanyl, but preventative measures, lifesaving interventions, addiction treatments and just basic recreational drug education are essentially unavailable in our state.

Looking back, If I was a teenager under these conditions, I’m not sure I’d be alive.

“You have kids who are taking one pill and dying,” says Emily Green of The Lund Report. The danger in experimenting with drugs has changed, she says. “But the teenage brain hasn’t.”

Today I’m speaking with Green, the author of this week’s cover story, “Generation OD,” originally published by The Lund Report, which unpacks a terrifying rise in youth fentanyl addiction, overdoses and deaths as well as the painfully neglected dearth of drug education, resources and recovery services for teens and young adults.

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