California teen’s demise from fentanyl underscores risks of social media drug markets

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It has been over a yr since Chris and Laura Didier discovered their 17-year-old son, Zach, slumped over his desk inside their residence close to Sacramento, Calif.

Their son “appeared to be asleep, and when I approached him, I knew something was horribly wrong,” dad Chris Didier advised Day by day Publish, recalling the second when he entered his son’s room on Dec. 27, 2020. 

“I just felt something dark and something empty — and it haunts me,” he mentioned.

Fearing the worst, Didier did what any father would do — he tried to deliver Zach again to consciousness. 

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A former U.S. navy service member, Didier used his CPR coaching to attempt to revive Zach whereas shouting out for his different son, Sam, to name 911. 

Medics arrived a short time later and took over the rescue efforts. 

Zach Didier was found slumped over his desk by his father after he had taken a counterfeit Percocet he purchased through Snapchat. The pill turned out to be a lethal dose of Fentanyl. He died at age 17 in December 2020.

Zach Didier was discovered slumped over his desk by his father after he had taken a counterfeit Percocet he bought by Snapchat. The capsule turned out to be a deadly dose of Fentanyl. He died at age 17 in December 2020.
(Courtesy of Laura and Zach Didier)

It was about 10 minutes later once they realized there was nothing extra they may do for {the teenager}. Dad Chris Didier recalled what occurred subsequent.

“I didn’t accept that. I said, ‘That’s not acceptable,’” he mentioned. “So, I resumed CPR and I fought as hard as I could to prevent the loss. And sometime later, one of the responders took me away from Zach.” 

The stricken father added, “And that’s when it stopped.”

“I know what fentanyl is, but how does that get into my house?”

Chris Didier mentioned coroners arrived at his residence to look at Zach’s room over the course of a number of hours.

“They said, ‘Chris, this is a real mystery,’” he mentioned. “’We — obviously, if someone dies — we want to figure out what happened, if there’s any obvious clues.’”

The investigators advised the Didiers there have been two potentialities relating to the reason for Zach’s demise: pure causes or fentanyl.

“I know what fentanyl is, but how does that get into my house?” Chris Didier requested. “My child is inside my house. He’s not out in the dangers of the world. How does he get it into his room? How does it get into his body?”

Bags of recently seized counterfeit pills made of Fentanyl are shown here, as captured by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

Baggage of lately seized counterfeit drugs product of Fentanyl are proven right here, as captured by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 
(DEA)

What Chris and Laura quickly realized was that their son had bought what he thought was a Percocet capsule from somebody on Snapchat. As an alternative, he ended up with a counterfeit capsule made up of fentanyl.

“We’d never heard of counterfeit pills,” mentioned Zach’s mom, Laura Didier.

“We never heard about drug dealers preying on young people through social media apps. This was not something we had any knowledge of, nor did our neighbors or our friends or Zach’s classmates. I mean, we were all completely blindsided to learn that all of this was happening.”

“Social media is a very common platform. You can get whatever you want on social media at any age, and I had no idea that [this] was going on.”

Each she and her husband had been shocked to be taught that their son, Zach, was in a position to receive the contaminated capsule so simply on social media.

“All the other parents that we knew, all of his soccer team, all of those friends — none of us had ever heard of a counterfeit prescription pill that had only fentanyl in it as the acting agent,” Chris Didier advised Day by day Publish. 

“I also learned that social media is a very common platform. You can get whatever you want on social media at any age, and I had no idea that that was going on.”

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Artificial opioids, primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl, have change into the first reason for overdose deaths within the U.S., particularly amongst teenagers. 

Officials have a growing concern that middle school, high school and college-aged kids are being targeted, as criminals make fentanyl pills disguised as Oxycodone, Adderall and Xanax. 

Officers have a rising concern that center college, highschool and college-aged children are being focused, as criminals make fentanyl drugs disguised as Oxycodone, Adderall and Xanax. 
(Cary Quashen)

Deaths linked to fentanyl amongst adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 have skyrocketed yr over yr, representing 77% of adolescent deaths amongst teenagers final yr alone, in accordance with a research launched in April by the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation (JAMA).

“One-time users are most likely to die from it because they have no tolerance, and they don’t have any idea what they were taking,” Dr. Olivia Rae Wright, a household drugs and adolescent dependancy specialist in Vancouver, Wash., advised Day by day Publish.

Stunning report

It was final November that the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) launched a stunning report: It indicated that over 100,000 drug overdose deaths within the U.S. occurred through the 12-month interval ending in April 2021. That is a rise of just about 30% from the identical time a yr earlier than. 

Overdoses began to rise when heroin began getting laced with fentanyl as a filler to push out extra product, mentioned one physician.

Three out of each 4 People who died throughout that interval had been killed by artificial opioids, primarily fentanyl — and people numbers are persevering with to rise, pushed partly by the variety of folks like younger Zach Didier who by no means knew what they had been taking.

Dr. Wright mentioned overdoses began to rise when heroin began getting laced with fentanyl as a filler to push out extra product. 

“It was all happening in the Northeast, and the reason was because it started out just being mixed with heroin,” she mentioned. “The heroin on the East Coast tended to come from China, and it was in a white powder form that was really easy to mix [with] fentanyl.”

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office (California) announced on Twitter that its office and the Narcotics Task Force recovered 42,000 grams of illicit fentanyl in Oakland and Hayward.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Workplace (California) introduced on Twitter that its workplace and the Narcotics Job Drive recovered 42,000 grams of illicit fentanyl in Oakland and Hayward.
(Alameda County Sheriff’s Workplace)

Wright added that it wasn’t an issue on the West Coast till the previous 10 years, when manufacturing of a specific kind of heroin referred to as China White slowed down.

“China got a lot of pressure from the U.S. about this when it first started becoming a problem,” she mentioned. 

“They quit making it as much. But what they do is, they send the precursors [base chemical compounds] to Mexico, and so now it’s … distributed in the United States, and made its way to the West Coast.” 

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The dependancy specialist additionally identified, “Once prescription opioids weren’t as available, then they [the drug dealers] were looking for other things to keep people hooked and found that fentanyl was a great way to do it.” 

Zach's parents, Laura and Chris Didier, said they were completely unaware of how readily available drugs are on social media apps like Snapchat.

Zach’s mother and father, Laura and Chris Didier, mentioned they had been utterly unaware of how available medication are on social media apps like Snapchat.
(Laura and Chris Didier)

She continued, “It started feeding into the supply, being mixed with other drugs, and then just on its own now, and mostly in pill form.”

Since Zach’s demise, Laura and Chris have used their expertise to tell different mother and father of the hazards of the counterfeit drugs and the open drug markets on social media.

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“If we had known about this problem — if we had seen a news report about this or seen a program in our school about this … we could have had this specific conversation,” Laura Didier mentioned.

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She added, “If we’d been able to also tell our beautiful, vibrant child, ‘If you ever see something on social media, don’t believe the deception. What they’re selling is not what they’re telling you.'”

Concluded this mother, “I just wish we would have known that that had to be a conversation.” 

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