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Fentanyl and Other Drugs: Prevention and Awareness Resource Guide

Fentanyl and Other Drugs: Prevention and Awareness Resource Guide
Six students walking together and looking at one another

Importance of Drug Prevention and Awareness

As we are hearing more about the increased presence of opioids and other drugs, specifically fentanyl, across our county, it is important to engage with and educate young people about the dangers of opioids, offer positive alternatives to drug abuse, and provide San Diego County's youth with the tools they need to thrive.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent and dangerous synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and 40-50 times more potent than heroin. Unsuspecting individuals, including students, are obtaining common prescription drugs such as Xanax or Vicodin, that are fake and contain fentanyl. One fake pill that has trace amounts of fentanyl can cause an overdose.

To assist districts, schools, families, and communities with outreach, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has created this resource guide with materials, data, and curriculum, as well as information about scheduling in-person presentations about the dangers of opioids and other drugs, and training on naloxone, the opioid-reversing drug available to all schools in the county.

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Resources for Schools Resources for Families

In San Diego County, there were more than 1,300 drug overdose deaths in 2021, approximately 75% being from fentanyl. In 2021, 22 young people under the age of 21, including 12 teens under the age of 18, died from overdose. Statewide, the statistics are even more alarming.

According to the California Department of Public Health Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, opioid-related overdose deaths in California’s youth ages 10-19 years increased from 54 in 2018 to 274 in 2020, marking a 407% increase over two years, largely driven by fentanyl. In addition, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in California’s youth ages 10-19 years increased from 36 in 2018 to 261 in 2020, a 625% increase.

By working together to get the word out about the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs, we can help to save and improve lives across our communities. 

For Schools

Substance Abuse Prevention Education and Training

SDCOE has drug-prevention education resources available to all districts and schools in the county. These resources include presentations focusing on increasing the perception of harm among our young people around opioids, marijuana, vaping, and other drugs. 

Naloxone Toolkit

One way school sites can be prepared for the possibility of an overdose on a school campus is having on hand naloxone, a life-saving medication that reverses an opioid overdose. SDCOE’s naloxone toolkit outlines how to obtain this drug and how to schedule training with SDCOE staff to learn how to administer it. 

Substance Abuse Prevention Curriculum 

As part of Operation Prevention San Diego, the San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in consultation with SDCOE, developed resources to provide educators with engaging tools that are aligned to national health and science standards, and integrate seamlessly into classroom instruction. Through a series of hands-on investigations, students can explore the science behind substance misuse, and the resulting impacts on our brain and body. Please register your email to gain access to the materials.

Other recommended organizations that provide lesson plans or teaching resources related to substance abuse or drug prevention include:

Resources for Students and Families

The drugs young people are using today are stronger and potentially more dangerous than drugs produced and used decades ago. For example, the potency of THC in marijuana has gone from 4% in the 1990s to 25% in 2020. And more teens today are vaping THC in concentrated forms so the potency can be as high as 98%. With the prevalence of fake pills that contain fentanyl, the idea of being able to experiment here and there with drugs like people have in the past is more dangerous than ever. Please share with your children that any pill (regardless of its color, shape, or size) that does not come from a health care provider or pharmacist can contain fentanyl and can be deadly. 

So what can parents, caregivers, and kids do to stay safe? Educate yourself. Be aware. And be prepared.

Tools to Educate Yourself

Facts About Fentanyl 

Be Aware

Tips for Parents and Caregivers Around Talking With Your Kids About the Dangers of Fake Pills and Fentanyl (DEA) 

  • Encourage open and honest communication
  • Explain what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous
  • Stress not to take any pills that were not prescribed to you from a doctor
  • No pill purchased on social media is safe
  • Make sure they know fentanyl has been found in most illegal drugs
  • Create an “exit plan” to help your child know what to do if they’re pressured to take a pill or use drugs

Other Resources for Parents

Resources for Students

Be Prepared

If you’re concerned someone in your life is at risk for opioid overdose, have on-hand the overdose reversal medication naloxone. Naloxone has no adverse side effects and is available without a physician prescription at most pharmacies. 

  • If you find any pills that you are unfamiliar with, do not touch them. Call local law enforcement for removal.
  • Call local law enforcement if you or your student have seen these rainbow-colored pills. Speaking up may save a friend’s life!
  • Contact the 24/7 Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Assessment Hotline at 888-724-7240 to get help for a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.

Additional Tools


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