(Phoenix, Arizona) – County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, in partnership with Tempe Union High School District and the Tempe Police Department, hosted a fentanyl educational forum on Tuesday, March 21. The event was held at McClintock High School and was geared towards students, parents, and community members interested in learning more about the extreme danger associated with this drug.
“Fentanyl is more than a drug, it’s a poison,” said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. “Six out of 10 counterfeit pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. What’s worse, in Maricopa County, we’ve seen a 5000% increase in overdose deaths since 2015.”
Mitchell was joined at the forum by elected officials Congressman Greg Stanton, County Vice Chairman Jack Sellers, and City Councilmember Joel Navarro. A separate panel of experts also explained how the drug effects the body and where it comes from. They also emphasized that because illicit fentanyl is not a pharmaceutical drug, you never know exactly what’s in a pill that’s purchased on the street. It is not uncommon for a single pill to contain a lethal dose.
“There is no room for experimenting with fentanyl. I worry about what the numbers will tell us at the end of this year on the damage that this drug is leaving behind. Every five minutes, someone dies of an overdose in this country,” said panelist Stephanie Siete, a drug expert with Community Bridges.
Students from Corona Del Sol and McClintock High Schools also shared the video public service announcements (PSAs) they have created in response to the effects of fentanyl on classmates. The students told the audience that fentanyl has killed some of their friends and severely addicted others. They believe much more must be done to convince young people of the dangers of the drug.
“We are reaching out to peers, because we know that the information we provide will likely make a bigger impact coming from a friend or someone they know at school,” said Max Weidinger
Tempe Coalition, a local non-profit geared towards the prevention of drug abuse, distributed Narcan, an opioid reversal medication. Anyone who finds another person who has overdosed can administer Narcan and potentially save a life.