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Placer County partners raise awareness of increased fentanyl poisonings among teens and young adults
1 Pill Can Kill Placer hopes to educate teens, young adults and parents on the dangers of fake prescription pills
Published April 22, 2022
Partners across the government, law enforcement, education, health and nonprofit sectors in Placer County announced today the launch of a fentanyl awareness campaign, “1 Pill Can Kill Placer,” to address the increasing local and national fentanyl crisis, and the “fentapill” fake prescription pill epidemic that is becoming a major challenge for the Placer County community.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is cheap to produce, difficult to detect, and extremely powerful. Most illicit fentanyl is being smuggled into the U.S. from China and Mexico. Black market dealers are manufacturing fake pills made of fentanyl – or “fentapills” – made to look like Percocet, Oxycodone or Xanax, and selling these pills to unsuspecting customers through social media and money transfer apps. It takes only 2mg of fentanyl to be considered a lethal dose.
In 2020, 24 Placer County residents lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning — nearly half under 25 years of age. They included 17-year-old Zach Didier, a student at Whitney High School in Rocklin. Zach purchased what he thought was a prescription Percocet through a drug dealer on the social media platform, Snapchat. That one pill turned out to be a fentapill. By the time Zach’s dad found him in his room, he had already passed away from fentanyl poisoning.
“We need to talk about this. We need to talk about what's happening,” said Zach’s parents, Chris and Laura Didier. “We can't protect Zach now, but hopefully we can protect someone else’s child.”
The goal of the “1 Pill Can Kill Placer” campaign is to inform and educate teens, young adults and parents on the dangers of obtaining prescription pills from anywhere other than a doctor or pharmacy. 1 Pill Can Kill Placer will utilize social media; paid media advertisements; and partnerships with schools, community-based organizations and local businesses to spread awareness. Placer County has also recently launched a new campaign website 1PillCanKillPlacer.com, where young adults can learn how to spot fake prescription pills and get support for anxiety and depression, often reasons for prescription drug misuse among young adults. Parents can also visit the site to get information on how to talk to their teens about fake prescription pills, and learn more about local resources to aid in treatment for substance use disorders.
"One of the toughest aspects is to destigmatize the victims of fentanyl poisonings so that families can have these important conversations,” said Placer County District Attorney, Morgan Gire. “We can learn from these tragedies and try and prevent others by creating a safe space for information sharing and education about the issue."
“The Placer County Sheriff’s Office has seen the devastating effects of fentanyl in the community. Since 2019, our coroner investigators have handled at least 67 deaths as a result of a fentanyl overdose. Deputies continue to sweep fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drugs off the streets on a weekly basis, while our detectives aggressively investigate who is responsible for distributing the deadly synthetic opiate to our citizens. The sheriff’s office remains committed to fighting the fentanyl epidemic through several measures, including education and awareness across the community and our schools,” said Sheriff Devon Bell.
“Educating our community is one of the most important things we can do, along with educating our students,” said Placer County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Garbolino-Mojica. “Placer County schools have robust health education programs, but losing even one student is one too many. The 1 Pill Can Kill Placer campaign is a step in the right direction to informing our students about the dangers of fentanyl and substance abuse.”
“As we all work together to try to combat this scourge on our community, it’s important for folks to be aware of the risks and aware that there is help available,” said Dr. Rob Oldham, director of Placer County Health and Human Services. “There are resources to help teens and young adults cope with stressors without turning to illicit pills; there are safe and effective treatments for substance use disorders; and there are supports in place for parents navigating difficult conversations with their children. With this campaign we hope that families will know they aren’t alone on the journey.”
Partners on the campaign include: Placer County District Attorney's Office, Placer County Sheriff's Office, Placer County Health and Human Services, Placer County Office of Education, Placer County Probation, Placer Community Foundation, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Granite Wellness Centers, Raising Placer, Placer-Nevada Rx Drug Safety Coalition, Tahoe Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence, and the Gateway Mountain Center.
Important Information for Teens:
- If the pill doesn’t come from a pharmacy, assume it’s a fentapill.
- It only takes 2mg of fentanyl to be lethal – that’s equivalent to a few grains of sand.
- Drug dealers target teens through social media and money transfer apps.
- Find healthy outlets if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or stressed. Talk to your parents, a teacher, school counselors, or a health professional.
Important Information for Parents:
- Be aware that fentapills are out there and easily accessible, even if purchasing a fentapill is not the intent. Black market vape fluids, cannabis and other street drugs also increasingly contain fentanyl to boost profits.
- Talk to your kids about boundaries when it comes to drugs and create a safe environment for them to talk to you.
- Look for changes in who your kids are talking to on social media, and the apps that they use regularly.
- Consider having naloxone (antidote to opioid overdose or accidental poisoning) on hand if you have any opioids in your home that could be misused or if you or someone you know could be at risk for an opioid overdose or fentanyl poisoning. Call 2-1-1 to find out how to get safe and easy access to administer naloxone.
Visit 1PillCanKillPlacer.com for more information and resources about fentanyl poisoning and the risks associated with illegal prescription drug use.