Guest column/Learning who can be trusted remains important

Find a penny, pick it up,

And all day you’ll have good luck.

When you see something interesting on the ground, what do you do? Have you ever picked up a coin from the ground, or found money that someone lost? Just when you think you have seen or heard it all, something else comes along. I have said to my 6-year-old grandchild, “Don’t pick that up. It’s dirty, and it doesn’t belong to you.” Dirt is the least of my concerns today.

Children are so inquisitive. They are excited, curious, rambunctious, and bubbling over with enthusiasm. They want to understand how things work. And they quickly grasp the concept of dollar bills — currency — that it makes possible the purchase of toys, candy, books and other things. What is going to happen if your child or grandchild spots a folded dollar bill on the floor at a gas station, a park, a store or some other public place?

Two incidents that occurred earlier this month are under investigation by authorities in Tennessee. Dollar bills were folded around a powdery substance that, when tested, was identified as methamphetamine and fentanyl. These dollar bills were on the floor of a gas station. You may have seen reports about it on the evening news.

Who would do such a thing — to a child, or an adult?

What can we do to protect our children and ourselves from such dastardly acts?

The discussion about fentanyl bears repeating: What fentanyl is and what it does.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. Synthetic — it’s made in a laboratory. Doctors prescribe it for treatment for severe pain, as after surgery or for advanced-stage cancers, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Certainly, these are good purposes. It is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Illicit fentanyl, however, is a different story. The illegal manufactured fentanyl is a major contributor to overdose in the United States.

“It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive and more dangerous,” the CDC advises. “It is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine and made into pills that resemble other prescription opioids.”

The region also has seen copycat pills made to look like over-the-counter pain relievers. (You might want to rethink asking someone if they have a pain reliever you can take for your headache. You might get a whole lot more than you are bargaining for.)

The CDC estimates that more than 150 people die daily from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. It does not have an ingredient list, yet it is commonly mixed with almost every kind of drug, reports say. You won’t taste it or smell it. You aren’t apt to see it, either. The CDC public service announcement advises that overdose takes an amount equal to just a fraction of a raindrop or three grains of salt. Hmm. Pretty easy to hide that.

You may think you have enough to worry about already, but it’s important to know these things, to educate your children about people and the evils they perpetrate on others. Trusting is a good attribute. But equally important is discerning who should be trusted. Learn more about fentanyl and how to protect your loved ones by visiting cdc.gov/overdose. Knowledge is key.

Family Recovery Center offers mental health services as well as addiction services. The goal is for the health and well-being of all.

For information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact the center at 1010 N. Sixth St., Steubenville; by phone at (740) 283-4946; by e-mail at info@familyrecovery.org; or visit the website at familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Brownfield is a publicist at the Family Recovery Center.)


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