Nebraska parents warned about deadly drugs possibly disguised as marshmallows

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Drug Enforcement Administration office here in Nebraska is sending parents a warning as we head into a new school year.

Authorities say they’re finding meth and fentanyl at an alarming rate across our state.

The drugs aren’t just dangerous; they can also be well disguised.

DEA agents have been seizing meth pills that are made to look like marshmallows from popular cereals.

This warning comes as Northwestern Medicine’s new research suggests that we’re facing a wave of opioid overdoses that could impact every county in our country, from the most rural to the most urban.

The Omaha Division of the DEA agrees. It is seeing more overdoses tied to meth and fentanyl. The drugs are branching out from the usual interstate routes, making it into the smaller communities now, too.

“We’re seeing methamphetamine, fentanyl and other drugs, whether it’s cocaine, heroin, whatever it may be, these drugs are making it into communities of all different sizes,” spokeswoman Emily Murray said. “We’ve seen everything from very small towns to large metropolitan areas. These drugs are just really flooding the market and making their way into communities. I think it’s important for people to realize that no place is immune to this.”

The concerning part to DEA authorities is that some of the pills are being made to look like food that a child would eat.

The target for these pills is changing to younger and younger people, and officials think social media is part of the blame.

“Now we’re seeing that they’re doing it more creatively, coming out with other things to look like other, you know, foods and stuff that they like to eat,” said Amber Dirks, crime response director for CenterPointe, an addiction treatment center in Lincoln. “Marshmallows is the newest thing. I think with social media becoming such a big part of youth and society as a whole, that’s a huge way that they’re targeting youth.”

Over 108,000 overdose deaths were recorded nationwide in 2021, with the CDC pointing to fentanyl as the main cause for the increase.

It does not take much for a dose to be lethal, the DEA says. The amount that could fit on the tip of a pencil is enough.

“Just one pill, one fake Xanax, one fake Adderall, one pill that’s made to look like a marshmallow from your childhood cereal,” Murray said. “That can potentially have lethal consequences because what we’re seeing is that four out of every 10 DEA lab-tested fentanyl pills are coming through with lethal amounts in them.”

That’s why officials say law enforcement is not enough. Parents need to talk to their kids about these drugs.

DEA officers say they recognize the difficulty of having a conversation like this with children, so resources are available for parents and teachers at justthinktwice.gov, getsmartaboutdrugs.gov, and dea.gov/onepill.

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