In the United States, there has been a recent sweep of fatalities relating to opioids. From celebrities such as Mac Miller to everyday students. Two teens recently died in Livermore and have recently been the center of the conversation, following their suspected overdoses from fentanyl.
Early in Oct., Oceana Muth and Justin Miles passed away from a suspected fentanyl overdose. When the Livermore Police Department released their statement, it left the grieving community with a lot of questions. Muth and Miles were only 16 and 18, respectively.
Their deaths sparked conversations about students and young adults using opioids. The victims’ friends and families spoke out not long after the news broke, emphasizing the risks of addiction and substance abuse.
Jon Krieg, the uncle of Muth, voiced his concerns, stating, “We do our best to raise our kids… we can sit there and question our kids all we want, but at the end of the day they are making that choice.” Krieg later recalled how the local police department used to do presentations about the dangers of drug use, similar to the every 15 minutes program, which highlights the dangers of drinking and driving. He remarked, “To shock kids into the truth, you need to show them from the source.”
Alyssa Nicole Cantz, who knew one of the victims, also commented on the issue, saying “I’ve seen addiction up close… it’s ugly. I feel like teenagers don’t take the epidemic seriously… they don’t care about the health risks.”
Young adults typically inherit an opioid addiction in two common ways. The first being obtaining prescription medication from injuries or illness. Students start out taking prescription pain medication and get addicted. Their only choice at that point is to either get it from a dealer or find an alternative drug.
Students especially gravitate towards drugs, since coming into adulthood can be one of the most stressful times in people’s lives. Some use opioids to handle stress and anxiety, and some even use them as antidepressants.
The other common way is receiving another drug, such as cocaine or Xanax, and having it laced with another drug, like fentanyl. Dealers do this to lower costs of the drug, and to increase the reaction the consumer will feel while taking it. This may cause the person to continue going to their dealer, wanting more and more until either they seek help or pass away from an unintentional overdose.
President Donald Trump, following his 2017 announcement of declaring a national opioid emergency, is expected to sign in a law that expands substance abuse treatment in Medicaid, as well as crack down on packages that may contain opioid substances.
In an emergency, Narcan can be used in hopes to reverse one’s overdose. However, there is no guarantee that it will rescue a life in danger.
The stepfather of Miles, Scott Adams, recently took to his personal blog to announce a special project he had been working on, in memoriam of his stepson:
“My stepson often complained that it was hard to find a sponsor when he needed one most when the urge to use was greatest. I think we can solve that problem by the end of the week, with your help. I’m the co-founder of a startup called WhenHub.”
WhenHub allows people struggling with addiction to connect with an ‘Expert’ and receive advice on their situation. ‘Experts’, however, can be any volunteered sponsor. The application is available on both Apple and Android devices, free to install. There may be in-app charges connected to the length of the call, depending on the Expert you want to get in contact with.