State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today convened a panel of experts to speak about strategies to combat the opioid/fentanyl crisis, the fastest-growing cause of death in California. The webinar was open to all educators and parents, and featured subject matter experts from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, California Health and Human Services, local educational agencies (LEAs), the California Department of Education (CDE), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Thurmond and participants discussed ways to work together to educate, prevent, and intervene to support and protect students.
In 2012, California suffered 82 deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses, and last year that number jumped to more than 6,000. Fentanyl deaths accounted for more than 80 percent of all drug-related deaths among California’s young people in 2021. Often, teens think they are purchasing Adderall, OxyContin, Percocet, or Xanax pills, but drug dealers are making fake pills with the cheaper, stronger, and deadlier synthetic drug fentanyl. As a result, most victims ingest fentanyl accidentally, thinking they are using something less dangerous. It can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and one pill can be fatal.