School works to educate community on fentanyl epidemic

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

By Reeva Askar

Fentanyl is one of the most talked about synthetic opioids on the market because it is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Last year, there were 6,843 opioid overdoses, 84 percent of which were related to fentanyl. There were over 200 overdoses among teens ages 15-19 in California, according to CDPH.

There have been many articles and news stories about  Fentanyl on the news which show how it can be easily mistaken for candy because of its colorful nature, showing how much of a danger it can be to students and young children. 

However, while many parents have become concerned for their children, there are many misunderstandings about the drug in the news. 

“It is a common misconception that fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, but that is not true for casual exposure. You can’t overdose on fentanyl by touching a doorknob or dollar bill. The one case in which fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin is with a special doctor-prescribed fentanyl skin patch, and even then, it takes hours of exposure,” according to

Signs of a fentanyl overdose include pinpoint pupils, losing consciousness, weak breathing, choking, limpness, clammy skin, and discoloration.

“When too much is accidentally taken, there is an excess amount of fentanyl binding to the opioid receptors that are responsible for pain and emotion. It can cause death by suppressing the central nervous system which causes breathing to slow down or stop. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that goes to the brain which can lead to brain damage and death,”  school nurse Crystal Ngo said.

There are ways to prevent an overdose, even after someone has ingested fentanyl, however. Narcan is a medication that reverses drug overdose. It is a nasal spray, which is easy to use, and not addictive. This spray blocks the effects of the opioid.

“We have Narcan on campus and are working to get it in every classroom,” Ngo said. 

Because of how dangerous fentanyl is, the school has been working to educate staff and students about the issue. For example, on October 12, the administration gave the whole staff training on how to recognize an overdose and how to treat it. 

The school is also hosting a fentanyl town hall meeting with experts from the Los Angeles Police Department and the health field. This meeting will take place on November 28 on campus.

Although the school is working to educate the community, not all students are actively afraid of the epidemic.

“I am not really terrified of the drugs going around because I don’t think people would spend their time and money on such an expensive drug like fentanyl, but I know it’s real too,” sophomore Eric Oganesyan said.

Oganesyan references the common fear published on social media that children would receive fentanyl-laced drugs at Halloween, though the real issue is people buying the drugs.

Especially with lots of misinformation going around, people can get more information about fentanyl on the website You can also get free Narcan through this site, though you do have to pay $7.99 in shipping. This is helpful information for anyone who does opioids or knows someone else who does.