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At this year’s SEED Foundation Event, held on May 28th, 2023, the topic of substance abuse, particularly the use of clandestinely produced synthetic opioid use among youth took center stage. Dr. Lishan Kassa, a medical professional who was being honored at the event for many of her pro-bono services in the community that includes mental health care, medical  services, and drug rehabilitation services used the platform to share her concerns as a frontline care provider about how the opioid crisis is impacting the youth in the DMV (Washington D.C. metro area MD/VA). She invited Ms. Luladey Kinfe-Michael, a Behavioral health nurse and Youth Advocate to the podium. 

Ms. Luladey was there speaking on behalf of her dear friend Robel Habtemariam, aka, Robel Musika who was scheduled to speak at the event until his recent passing due to a drug overdose earlier that month. Ms. Luladey shared a heartfelt and sincere message about people being found deceased due to the increase in the use of narcotics. She shared a story about a young boy who recently graduated from High School and had been found dead in his bed. Many of the youth’s family members had traveled from out of state and from Ethiopia to celebrate and were now planning his funeral. She went on to add that people in the community are preoccupied with appearances and overlook the needs of their own children giving examples of kids who reached out to their parents about going to rehab and were brushed off because they were concerned about appearances. 

The use of the synthetic opioid – Fentanyl has increased tremendously and all national and local health and human service agencies data confirm an increase of use across the board, but particularly among the youth. This increase in use has contributed to a significant number of overdose-related deaths. Every generation has its vices, but this generation is plagued with a synthetic narcotic that gives no second chance. Parents are urged to take precautionary measures to talk to their kids and have Naloxone kits in their homes to reverse overdoses in the event of an emergency to prevent wooden chest syndrome (WCS) associated with the use of Fentanyl. Other incidents include marijuana smokers who end up with a spiked bag of fentanyl. 

Both the controlled dosage of the pharmaceutical Fentanyl as well as the non-regulated street version of the drug is contributing to the opioid crisis.

Facts –

  • Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic under the U.S. controlled Substances Act of 1970.
  • Opioid poisoning effects include: changes in pupillary size, cold and clammy skin, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death. 
  • Effects on the body: euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, vomiting, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression.

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