The fentanyl crisis

Alerting Titans on a drug crisis.

   Incredibly addictive, cheap to manufacture, and dangerously deadly. Fentanyl has rapidly risen to the forefront of the ongoing national opioid epidemic. No area in the county has been spared from the tragic loss that comes with the prevalence of drugs. The consequences of taking drugs without a prescription are more frequently a gamble with the user’s life. 

   Poway and San Diego County as a whole are seeing an alarming rise in deaths from fentanyl, a synthetic drug between 50-100 times stronger than morphine. An amount no larger than two grains of salt is enough to be potentially fatal according to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. 

   Fentanyl has been around since the 1960s, and it was originally invented as an anesthetic. While it can be prescribed, misuse is common. The issue now is drug dealers have started to secretly mix it with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It also is being put into counterfeit oxycodone, Xanax, and Adderall pills. 

   When combined with other drugs fentanyl makes them much more potent. More concerning still, many people are unaware of the presence of the substance. Besides testing, there is no way to tell pills or drugs laced with fentanyl. More often than not, an illegal drug today will be contaminated with fentanyl. It has also been known to be hidden in candy packages, presenting a risk to younger children as well. 

   Throughout the first nine months of 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized 5,091 pounds of fentanyl across San Diego County according to the United States Attorney’s Office of Southern California. Substance abuse continues to be the one of the top causes of accidental deaths in Poway, and the nation as a whole.

   In an effort to increase student knowledge about the substance, the district has incorporated information about it into health classes. With an issue like fentanyl, the question of how to best present the problem, especially to kids, has presented a unique challenge. Student Services Specialists on each campus are well versed on the issue and able to answer individual student questions.

   Associate Superintendent of Student Support Services Greg Mizel has put together the PUSD Safety Summit which will take place at 6:30 p.m. on March 2 at the district office. The summit is planning to focus on increasing awareness and educating about substance abuse for parents and high school students.  It will include  speakers such as San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan, Alcohol and Drug Ambassador for the San Diego County Office of Education Rocky Heron , and Community Partnership Prosecutor Brooke Tafreshi. For those unable to attend in person, it will also be live streamed on the PUSD Board of Education Youtube Channel. 

   The county as a whole is working to create initiatives against the growing number of drug overdose deaths resulting from fentanyl. One is to increase the availability of the drug naloxone or Narcan, which can neutralize opioids, and help prevent drug overdoses, but getting it to people in drug usage situations can be tough.