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Raising Awareness

Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

In 2020, 76% of drug deaths in people ages 15-24 involved fentanyl. (CDC)

The illicit use and abuse of synthetic drugs represent an emerging and ongoing public health threat in California. The fentanyl crisis specifically has impacted communities across the state, leading to a sharp increase in fentanyl poisoning and deaths in recent years. This notice aims to address the crisis with a preventative approach ensuring students and families are educated on the deadly consequences of recreational drug use. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl, equal to 10 to15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose.

A synthetic drug is a drug with properties and effects similar to a known hallucinogen or narcotic but having a slightly altered chemical structure, especially such a drug created to evade existing restrictions against illegal substances. Synthetic drugs include but are not limited to synthetic cannabinoids (“synthetic marijuana”, “Spice”, “K2”), Methamphetamines, Bath Salts, and Fentanyl.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has expounded on the extreme danger of drugs laced with fentanyl. Illicit fentanyl can be added to other drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful, and more addictive. Illicit fentanyl has been found in many drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine. Fentanyl mixed with any drug increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl without additional testing, because fentanyl cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted when used as a lacing agent. Additional information regarding fentanyl from the CDPH's Substance and Addiction Prevention Branch can be found here

Teens Speak Out

Video: Synthetic Drugs

Naloxone Saves Lives

Naloxone (NARCAN®) is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications—when given in time. Naloxone is easy to use and small to carry. There are two forms of naloxone that anyone can use without medical training or authorization: prefilled nasal spray and injectable.

In nearly 40% of overdose deaths, someone else was present. Having naloxone available allows bystanders to help a fatal overdose and save lives.

Nearly 50,000 people died from an opioid-involved overdose in 2019. One study found that bystanders were present in more than one in three overdoses involving opioids. With the right tools, bystanders can act to prevent overdose deaths. Anyone can carry naloxone, give it to someone experiencing an overdose, and potentially save a life. Carrying naloxone is no different than carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known by the brand name EpiPen) for someone with allergies. It simply provides an extra layer of protection for those at a higher risk for overdose.

Learn more: CDC