Fentanyl and Other Drugs: Prevention and Awareness Resource Guide
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’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.
SKIP TO SECTION
In San Diego, there were more than 1,100 drug overdose deaths in 2021, the majority 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.
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.
- I Choose My Future: Opioids and Other Drugs
- Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE)
- Friday Night Live
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.
- San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force
- National Institutes of Health
- Natural High - Drug Prevention Program for Youth
- Teacher Vision
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
- Operation Prevention San Diego Resources for Parents: Facts about drugs and tips for talking to kids about drugs (English and Spanish)
- San Diego Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force: Resources for parents, teens, and teachers around education and awareness
- Get Smart About Drugs: News and information on drug trends and resources for parents on talking to kids about substance abuse and prevention.
Facts About Fentanyl
- The Rise of Fentanyl in San Diego - Presentation by the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration- One Pill Can Kill
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Fentanyl Awareness
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 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
- Growing Up Drug Free - A Parent’s Guide to Prevention
- Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Teen drug abuse: Help your teen avoid drugs
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Conversation Starters for Parents
Resources for Students
- How to Cope: Parents With Addiction
- Alateen: A place just for teens affected by someone else’s alcoholism.
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.
More to explore
As classrooms and school districts across the nation kick off their 2023 Black History Month celebrations, let us remember the urgency and importance of teaching Black history beyond the month of February. The histories, stories, and voices of Black people should be centered, honored, and uplifted in school curricula every day.
More than 2,000 high school students from across San Diego County connected with representatives from more than 30 historically Black colleges and universities, as well as UC and Cal State schools, at the Sixth Annual San Diego Black College Expo college fair on Jan. 26.
Because of inclement weather, schools in the Julian Union High, Julian Union Elementary, Spencer Valle, Mountain Empire, and Warner Springs school districts will be closed Monday. All schools in those districts will also have a late start Tuesday.
This toolkit provides resources to help students and adults share how they’re feeling in a safe and productive way.