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DEA in El Paso sees 60% rise in teen drug abuse

Fentanyl in seen in pill form.
Fentanyl in seen in pill form.

EL PASO, Texas -- It's an alarming new trend according to El Paso's division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The DEA has seen a 60 percent increase of substance abuse among teens and as kids are now back in the classroom and are socializing more, the agency says there are certain signs you need to be on the lookout for.

"We've seen teens, because of the pandemic, start using drugs for the first time ever," said Carlos Briano, a spokesperson for the DEA's El Paso division.

Briano cites isolation, depression, anxiety, even boredom, as reasons for the increase.

But it's not just teenagers, people of all ages have been abusing some type of drug, and seizures off all kinds of drugs have increased dramatically.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this summer that drug over dose deaths went up almost 30 percent in 2020 to about 93,000 people.

"We've seen an increase in all types of drugs, fentanyl, cocaine, heroin. All these drugs, unfortunately, have been increasing to the point where in fentanyl, for example, we've already seized them more than we did in 2020 and 2019 combined. And we're only half of the year into 2021," Briano said.

(Data provided by the El Paso division of the DEA for FY 2021. The division encompasses west Texas and New Mexico. )

Many of these drugs, including fentanyl, can be made into a pill form. Briano said teens who are apt to pop a pill, to experiment with these drugs, might not know what they're actually taking.

"Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. So popping one pill is the equivalent of injecting yourself with 50 needles of heroin. So that's the perspective that people need to think about, not just kids" Briano said.

The DEA recommends that parents to talk to their kids about substance abuse and prevention.

"When something comes out in the news about a someone famous that there was a consequence, due to substance use or misuse, take that opportunity to (say) 'hey, did you hear son or hey, mom did you hear about so and so - and that can be a conversation starter."

There are also many resources that the DEA provides parents and even teachers to discuss substance abuse and the dangers of it.

To learn more about the DEA and these drugs, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Brianna Chavez


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