Teen’s Tragic Death Sparks Parent-led Awareness on Potential Fentanyl Overdose

The death of a 15-year-old in Hays County, Texas is currently under investigation as a possible fentanyl-related incident. Superintendent Eric Wright of Hays Consolidated ISD (CISD) reported in a letter to parents and staff that the recent death is being examined as a potential fentanyl overdose. This tragic event has brought to light the ongoing concern surrounding the dangers of fentanyl in the district and across the nation. Wright expressed his deep sorrow, stating, “It is our continuing worst fear – to lose another student from a danger that remains present in our district and across the country. We have previously lost six students to this evil since the summer of 2022.”

While the student passed away at home, the Hays CISD has been actively involved in educating individuals within the district about the hazards associated with fentanyl for the past year. Janel Rodriguez, the founder of the Forever 15 Project, shared her emotional response upon hearing the news, expressing her anger, frustration, and the darkness she felt that day. Rodriguez established the Forever 15 Project with the aim of cautioning young people about the risks associated with fentanyl, following the tragic overdose that claimed the life of her son, Noel. His death was one of three student fatalities that prompted the Hays CISD to actively address the fentanyl crisis.

Rodriguez emphasized that fentanyl does not discriminate and can impact families from all walks of life, dispelling the stereotype that it only affects individuals typically associated with addiction. She stated, “I know like, my son was not a drug addict. And I’m now in this boat with so many other families who are similar to ours.” Rodriguez further explained that counterfeit versions of drugs such as Adderall, Xanax, or Percocet, which are used to treat ADHD, anxiety, and pain respectively, can contain lethal doses of fentanyl, regardless of the intended effect. She recalled a tragic story of a college student who purchased an Adderall to aid in his studying but tragically lost his life.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug approved by the FDA for post-surgical pain management and chronic severe pain treatment. Classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the DEA, fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. The DEA warns that counterfeiters can produce fake pills that closely resemble legitimate pharmacy-produced pills, potentially leading individuals to unknowingly consume fentanyl. Rodriguez highlighted that within a batch of counterfeit pills, the distribution of fentanyl can vary, with some pills containing harmless doses while others contain fatal amounts. She used the analogy of a mousetrap to illustrate the danger.

According to the DEA, laboratory tests on seized pills revealed that 7 out of every 10 contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. To combat the fentanyl crisis, Hays CISD offers information and resources, forging partnerships with various organizations, including the Forever 15 Project. Rodriguez urged families not to be naive and believe that such a tragedy could not befall their own loved ones. The devastating loss of a young life serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and take proactive measures to protect our communities.

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