EARLY YEARS: Roanoke Valley authorities warning parents and teens about Rainbow fentanyl

The newest drug danger to our kids is made to look like colorful pieces of candy or sidewalk chalk
The deadly drug is marketing to kids and teens by appearing as candy or sidewalk chalk
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:38 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Colorful tablets being distributed by drug traffickers might look like candy, but they’re actually known as “rainbow fentanyl.”

It’s a potentially deadly drug being marketed to teens and kids.

Police in our area are trying to stay one step ahead of it, but it’s getting harder.

“We talk about it in law enforcement all the time. We’re trying to fight a forest fire with a fire extinguisher. Sometimes, it gets really frustrating,” says First Sergeant Joe Crowder, with Virginia State Police.

Rainbow fentanyl is their latest concern, especially because it’s made to be attractive to youth.

“If they can target the younger communities- I call it sustained addiction. If you can get the younger communities addicted, it sustains their profit, says Crowder.

Counterfeit opioids have already infiltrated our area.

For teens who get pills like Xanax, Adderal or oxycodone from a friend or on the street, the danger is real.

“If you get a pill off the street now, you can almost bet -- 99 percent sure it’s going to be fentanyl,” says Crowder.

Keeping kids away from drugs is the key.

Crowder says state police work with organizations like the Prevention Council of Roanoke County.

“We are just concerned that parents really pay attention to what these things are, what they look like,” says Nancy Hans, Executive Director of the Prevention Council.

Even for the most vigilant parents, Hans says having their own phone makes kids more vulnerable to drug traffickers.

If young people are looking for pills, they’re as close as social media.

“There are so many kids and young adults, college kids that say ‘I just need something to take the edge off my anxiety. I just need something, and they can easily get it through Snapchat,” says Hans.

“What’s dangerous about that now is all these things are pressed with fentanyl. Some of the fentanyl analogs, other synthetics, adderall, some of of our stimulants are being pressed with crystal methamphetamine,” says Crowder.

Trying to get pharmaceuticals to cope with anxiety and other issues, Hans says, is a major contributor to the problem.

She’s asking parents to pay attention to what’s happening with their kids, and for them to ask for help when they need it.

“It is very normal if things are going on in your life, that you think you need a pill to fix, when you really need a conversation,” says Hans.

Click here for more information about rainbow fentanyl.