Prescription drug abuse continues to grow among high school students, according to speakers at a parents’ information session in south Ottawa.

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Next week

CBC Ottawa will explore the extensive problems with opioids on Ottawa streets. Steve Fischer looks at the underground market for these prescription painkillers. 

Some are calling the issue an epidemic 14 months after a student from South Carleton High School died from an overdose of the prescription drug, fentanyl.

Fentanyl patches, first developed a decade ago, are designed to slowly release the drug over 72 hours. But in the last five years drug users discovered the prescription narcotic could be chewed, smoked, injected or otherwise consumed all at once.

The results, according to health officials, can be disastrous, particularly for first-time users.

Tyler Campbell had only tried the drug “a few times” when he died, his family said Thursday evening.

“Whenever I hear of another death by overdose my heart breaks all over again,” said Campbell’s mother, Joanne. “Some teens are lucky enough to live, but Tyler didn't.”

Some parents are aware of the spread of fentanyl, but others are not. Parent Susan Rabb said she thought Oxycontin was the drug to watch out for.

From 2009 to 2011, an estimated 253 deaths in Ontario were linked to fentanyl, according to the province's Office of the Chief Coroner.

That's more than three times the number of deaths linked to heroin. During that time, only the more widespread oxycodone was connected to more deaths.