Last updated 4/19/2022 at 11:31am
Last month, I hosted a fentanyl policy roundtable that included updates from DEA Narcotics officials, Homeland Security Investigators, The U.S. Attorney’s office, California policymakers, and medical professionals about the impacts of fentanyl.
The tragic stories of fentanyl overdoses are becoming all too common, with heartbreaking stories of kids dying because they bought prescription pills like Adderall or Xanax and they turned out to be laced with fentanyl.
The meeting showed we all have a lot of work to do to bring awareness to the deadly effects of fentanyl. Fentanyl deaths have increased 873% over five years, with over 800 deaths in San Diego County last year.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from the discussions is it’s closer than most people know. It’s in our schools, it’s touching our friends and families, no matter the age. Last year, the leading cause of death in the United States for 18-45-year-olds was fentanyl.
Across the United States, there has been a wave of deaths among teens and young adults who bought what they believed to be a prescription pill — like Adderall or Xanax — that turned out to be a counterfeit pill containing a deadly dose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid a hundred times more potent than morphine. Many of these pills are being traded openly via social media and have been linked to the sale of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that have caused the deaths of teens and young adults.
It’s time we find a solution, which is why I wanted to bring different entities into the same room to discuss ways we can make a difference. Many interesting ideas were discussed including, increased border security, contact tracing for individuals who are given fentanyl, and harsher penalties for dealers.
Last year, I led the effort to direct the County to work with the educational community, and other stakeholders to develop a substance use prevention campaign that focuses on fentanyl awareness. While it’s a start, we know we have a long way to go. I will keep you updated.
– San Diego County District 5 Supervisor