DENVER (KDVR) — Rocky Mountain Poison Center is issuing a warning for parents following a recent cluster of adolescents overdosing on opioids.
“One of the things we have noticed recently is we have gotten a fair number of calls to our poison center for young people, adolescents, who have been experimenting with vaping fentanyl,” Dr. Christopher Hoyte said.
Hoyte is the medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center, which is part of Denver Health. He is also an attending physician in the emergency department at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
Fentanyl is an opioid. It typically comes in powder or pill form. Hoyte said his team believes teens are now ingesting it in liquid form.
“What we’ve been noticing is that young people are getting fentanyl in liquid form and putting the cartridges in vaping pens and vaping fentanyl, and you can imagine that can be very, very dangerous,” he said.
An amount as small as a few grains of sand can be deadly.
“They stop breathing and so they have to be resuscitated,” Hoyte said.
According to Hoyte, this is a problem affecting adults too and is a big part of the opioid epidemic.
“It’s the age range that really is kind of the new thing. We hadn’t seen it quite as young as adolescents,” he said.
He says in just the past two to three months, the poison center has seen an unusual cluster of cases. However, Rocky Mountain Poison Center did not immediately have a specific number of cases available.
“At least in the double digits. It’s more than single digits for sure. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we’re having hundreds and hundreds of cases coming in,” he said, “but before we get to that point, I want to get the word out that people should be very vigilant about their adolescents and children potentially being exposed to this.”
Hoyte advises parents to talk to their children about the hazards associated with vaping fentanyl.
“If you don’t talk to your kids about it, kids like to experiment, and we all at that age think that we’re invincible,” he said.
He also has a message for teens: “Don’t just go buy anything off the street because you have no idea what you’re actually buying and that can be unbelievably dangerous.”