15:30 PM

A deadly trend is emerging and kids are the target



Five things New Jersey's DEA leader says you need to know right now.

Susan Gibson, DEANo one knows more about what the drug cartels and street-level dealers are doing to move illegal, addictive, and deadly drugs into our communities than Susan Gibson, the New Jersey Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Their latest target? One of the most common drugs prescribed to treat ADD / ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder): Adderall.

Gibson’s team and her DEA colleagues throughout the country are sounding new alarms about a surge in fake Adderall that has been laced with illegal and unregulated fentanyl, an opioid that is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is highly addictive and deadly – just two milligrams can be lethal.

When properly prescribed, Adderall has a strong track record of helping children and adults, but that success has made it attractive to counterfeiters. The medicine is among the most prescribed top choices to treat ADHD and ADD among children and young adults, making what others see as a “safe” drug all the more attractive for illegal distributors to target for its addictive qualities.

Appropriately used, Adderall helps patients struggling with behavior issues like hyperactivity and an inability to focus and concentrate. But when misused, the stimulant which is listed on the DEA’s drug resource guide can lead to addiction. This has produced a growing illegal market for Adderall and its counterfeit versions – particularly among teens and young adults.


5 Reasons Why  Adderall Use and Misuse is a Growing Concern Right Now:


1. It's "college crack."

The fall semester brings renewed concern that Adderall will fall into the wrong hands. Being a stimulant, the drug is attractive to students seeking help to concentrate on studies and exams.

2. It's a boost of energy on the job.

Young professionals are also turning to the drug to get an edge in job performance. The drug can temporarily push the body to work extended days and nights to meet work project deadlines.

3. It's being counterfeited.

The DEA is seeing a trend in which Adderall is being manufactured in illicit drug labs and trafficking on the street as the real prescription. The level of sophistication is high, with pills that look, smell and taste like the real thing.

4. It's being laced with other drugs.

Adderall pills laced with deadly amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine are now being sold on the streets and on the internet. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger and more addictive than morphine, and crystal meth is an extremely addictive stimulant that can cause heart and brain damage and systematically destroys the body.

5. One pill can kill.

New Jersey is on a pace to record a record high number of drug overdose deaths in 2021, according to the state Attorney General’s Office. The dangers of unknown amounts of fentanyl in drugs is contributing to the rapid rise of accidental overdoses and related deaths.


4 Things Parents Can Do To Keep Kids Safe:


1. Talk to your child openly about drug and alcohol abuse.

Turn off the cell phones and warn your teen or young adult about the risks of encountering counterfeit Adderall pills and the dangers of experimenting with this and other substances. Do your research and give them the facts. One pill can kill, especially when your child really doesn’t know what’s in it and where it came from.

2. Make your home safe.

Keep track of medications in your home and dispose of drugs that are expired or unused. If your child is on Adderall, make sure they are taking the medication as prescribed. This can avoid situations in which young people become tempted to skip taking the medication and instead sell it on the street for profit.

3. Look for warning signs.

Know the risk factors that make your children vulnerable to drug abuse. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, understanding underlying risk factors, such as a family history of addiction and recognizing when a child is struggling with behavioral and emotional problems, is key to preventing addiction.

4. Take care of you.

It’s not easy to have a conversation with kids about drugs, and even harder to cope with substance use disorder in the household. Fortunately, there are professional and peer groups and other resources available to support parents, including NJConnect for Recovery and American Addictions Centers.  

Horizon members in need of help with substance use disorder can find a provider by using our doctor finder. Members are also encouraged to check out Horizon’s guide to accessing mental health resources during the pandemic and can find comprehensive resources in one, easy-to-navigate site: Horizon Behavioral Health℠.