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Fentanyl Awareness

The following information was procured from Operation Engage Spokane, Spokane Alliance for Fentanyl Education (S.A.F.E.) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 45 is fentanyl overdoses. The CDC estimates that over 104,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending on September 30, 2021. Sixty-five percent (65%) of those overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. 

Like most states across the country, the State of Washington has not been immune to the alarming increase in the availability of counterfeit fentanyl pills and overdoses. In Washington, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) records show that seizures of counterfeit fentanyl pills increased by 264% from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2021.

Along with the increase in seizures throughout the state, Washington experienced the associated increase in overdose deaths due to the availability and lethality of these counterfeit fentanyl pills. According to the Washington Department of Health (DOH), there were 805 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to 653 during the entire year of 2020. 

Spokane's Fentanyl Problem
The City of Spokane is the second largest city in Washington State. Due to its location on I-90 and proximity to Canada, it’s a central hub for narcotics distributed throughout Eastern Washington and other States to the east to include Idaho and Montana. Opioids (illicit fentanyl and heroin) and prescription drugs are among the top regional drug threats in Washington.

Fentanyl Facts

  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more powerful than morphine
  • There is no regulation on how much Fentanyl is in the street drug
  • The amount of Fentanyl seized by the DEA in 2021 is enough to kill every American
  • Assume it is in EVERYTHING: small blue or rainbow colored pills, but also hiding in most street drugs/pills
  • Poses as other drugs such as oxycontin, xanax, adderall; laced in heroin, cocaine, and THC, and NO ONE can tell the difference
  • The size of a grain of salt can be a lethal dose
  • Touching it can make you sick or even die
  • This is not "just a drug addict" issue, it is also killing our experimental and one-time users who were fooled into thinking it was something else
  • Kids are buying drugs on SnapChat and other social media sites, using cash apps, and having it delivered to their house

Additional Resources

Tips for parents in talking about fentanyl

  • Do your research to learn about signs and symptoms of Fentanyl
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of Fentanyl and that 'one pill can kill' in a non-judgemental manner. Start the conversation early and look for opportunities where a natural discussion can occur. The more conversations, the easier it will be to talk about.
  • Talk to your kids about ways to say no 
  • Show pictures of what fentanyl looks like (blue and rainbow pills/chalk, adderall)
  • Make a family agreement to not take anything from anyone (including OTC pain relievers such as aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.). Reinforce that their friends might not even know the pill/drug has fentanyl in it, so it's not safe to take anything from friends either.
  • Monitor social media and cash apps: The DEA has a Emoji Drug Code to help understand meanings of certain emojis as they relate to potential online drug deals. 
  • Monitor incoming packages
  • Understand how/when to use Narcan
  • Help your child identify someone they can talk to if needed. If this is not you, help them identify a person they can go to for these issues.