WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - The Drug Enforcement Administration is introducing a new initiative to help curb the opioid crisis, teaming up with college esports teams across New England to raise awareness.

The “One Pill Can Kill Game Over” tournament coming up this Thursday aims to teach teenagers about the dangers of fentanyl.

“We are all in a race to save lives right now. There’s nothing more critical right now than to save American lives by getting this message out there,” said Jon Delena, the associate administrator of the DEA. “You need to empower them with all the information, so that they can make a good, healthy decision.”

At the tournament in Worcester, eight teams will compete on a livestream while special guests deliver important information about the dangers of drugs like fentanyl.

Delena said it can be difficult to engage with teenagers about opioids.

“So we needed to meet them where they are, and we’re always challenged,” he said.

But he said the virtual world is also where many young people are being targeted by drug dealers.

“Social media has become the super highway for drugs right now,” Delena said. “We wanted to be honest and transparent. We want to tell them how dangerous this substance is. We want to give them some of the facts that we’ve seen.”

Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death for young Americans. In 2023, the DEA found 79 million pills laced with the addictive opioid.

“We lost 109,000 Americans to drug poisoning deaths last year. We’re losing 22 teenagers every week to drug poisoning and drug overdose deaths. So, they are the critical age right now that needs to understand just how dangerous this is.”

The DEA said every teen will be faced with this challenge, and awareness and education are the most important prevention tactics.

“You can’t see the difference, you don’t know the difference, until it’s too late,” Delena said.

The DEA hopes that teens will tune in on Twitch or DEA.gov/gameover on Thursday to learn more about the intiative.

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