Street fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, and just a few grains of it can prove to be fatal. Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death in Fresno County. In an alarming new trend, fentanyl is being disguised as candy, with dealers targeting youth and the drug being hidden in plain sight of adults.
The following resources offer important information to parents and the community as together, we look to support our children to live their best lives.
2 MINUTES TODAY VIDEO: In a recent issue of 2 Minutes Today, Clovis Unified Campus Resource Officer Hector Becerra discusses the fentanyl epidemic:
- What is fentanyl & what are the dangers?
- Fentanyl facts
- What is Narcan?
- Resources for families
TOWNHALL: This fall, Clovis Unified partnered with local health and law enforcement officials and KMPH to hold a Town Hall discussion on fentanyl in order to raise awareness among parents and students of a dangerous epidemic that has made its way into Fresno County. Sadly, dozens of young people in our community have lost their lives due to the drug and others are trapped in a cycle of addiction.
Speakers included Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp; Paco Balderrama, City of Fresno Police Chief; Fresno County Sheriff-Elect John Zanoni; Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino; and Fresno County Public Health’s Dr. John Zweifler.
To view a recording of the Town Hall that was held at Clovis North High go to:
SIX THINGS EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW - COLUMN BY FRESNO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:
The following article appears in the September 2022 edition of CUSD Today, the district’s monthly newspaper:
What parents need to know about fentanyl
By Lisa Smittcamp
Fresno County District Attorney
Fentanyl is the most addictive, lethal drug ever to be sold in our communities. The fentanyl epidemic is not only throughout our state and country, but also here in Fresno County.
Historically, fentanyl was a drug used only by medical professionals to provide pain relief to patients. When properly administered, it produces effects such as relaxation, drowsiness, and respiratory depression. When used in uncontrolled amounts via counterfeit pills or powder, it will slow respiration, reduce blood pressure, cause fainting and seizures, and can stop the heart and respiratory system entirely.
Non-prescription fentanyl, which is being put into counterfeit pills and powder form, is being sold to the public and killing thousands of Americans each year. In 2020, the CDC reported that 24,576 people died in the U.S. from fentanyl-related overdoses. In 2021, that number jumped to 71,238. In 2022, we expect death tolls from overdoses to precipitously increase. Law enforcement is seizing MILLIONS of counterfeit pills coming over the border containing enough fentanyl to kill hundreds of thousands of people.
Fresno County has led the way on educating our community on the realities of this dangerous and potentially fatal poison through PSA’s, billboards and social media posts. In addition, through our collaboration with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and our local media partners, we’ve been addressing this crucial topic on many platforms, from ABC30 producing the documentary, KILLER HIGH: The Silent Crisis, to FOX26 hosting live Town Halls, and Univision reaching the Spanish-speaking community.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Fresno Office with the Fentanyl Overdose Resolution Team (FORT) leads the way to bring education/awareness. It is the only task force in the area that investigates, arrests, and prosecutes the people who are selling this poison. FORT consists of members of the Fresno Police Department, DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, United States Attorney’s Office, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Here are six things every parent should know about the dangers of fentanyl and how to prevent fentanyl use:
1. Monitor Social Media Platforms
Most of the fentanyl pills and powder are being sold on social media platforms. Common apps such as Snapchat, What’s App, Twitch, Instagram, Telegram, etc. should be actively monitored for any signs of dealers reaching out to your child. Different lingo is used to solicit buyers with phrases such as “M30, percs, blues, tango and cash, and xannie bars.”
2. Be Aware of Their Social Circles
Know who your children are associating with outside of the home. Look for changes in friend groups or certain behaviors. People who are under the influence of fentanyl do not have objective signs of intoxication that are common with other substances.
3. Signs and Symptoms
Look for signs such as drowsiness, sedation, confusion, disorientation, slurred speech, pin-point pupils, change in sleeping patterns, lack of good hygiene, unkept bedrooms, and falling grades. Often, young adults are found deceased from fentanyl poisoning while they are laying in their beds, where their family members believed, they were just listening to music, playing video games, or sleeping.
4. Influence of Vaping and Marijuana Use
Based on F.O.R.T. investigations and interviews, vaping and marijuana use cause anxiety based on the higher THC levels found in marijuana today. This increased anxiety leads the user to seek out drugs such as Xanax. Sadly, the “Xanax” they receive is a fake one laced with fentanyl.
5. Naloxone aka “Narcan”
This medication is used to reverse an opioid/fentanyl overdose, and if administered timely, can prevent a death. We encourage all parents to keep Narcan on hand, not only for their own children, but also for others who may be users and visiting your residence.
6. Cash Apps
Users purchase drugs using cash apps such as Venmo and Zelle. The average price for a counterfeit pill is $20. Parents should monitor all cash apps and should be aware that dealers will often deliver the pill(s), which are easily concealed, directly to the user’s home and simply drop it off in a location where it is undetected and easily accessible to the user.
We implore you to take this information seriously, share it with other parents, and warn our youth about the deadly effects of fentanyl.