November 24, 2022
November 24, 2022
On Wednesday, Wheatland Union High School held the “One Pill Can Kill” program to raise awareness in the community about prescription drug use, fentanyl and drug overdose treatments.
Lisa Phillips, director of health services at Wheatland Union High School District, said the district felt compelled to hold a fentanyl education event for the community given the number of reported overdoses nationwide. national.
She said that while no Wheatland Union High School students have been affected by prescription drug abuse, the problem still affects young people in Yuba County.
“The overdose epidemic is national. We noticed there weren’t really any local events to teach people what an overdose looks like or how to stop one, so we organized this to bring people together. We just want to be proactive,” Phillips said.
Leading the event were April Rovero, Founder and Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, and Clement Sze, Diversion Panel Supervisor for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Rovero founded the coalition in 2010 after his son died from ingesting a lethal combination of alcohol and prescription drugs, which he received from his doctor days before. The voluntary, nonprofit organization partners with schools and communities to prevent prescription drug and opioid abuse and overdose deaths.
“If it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone,” Rovero said.
During the presentation, Rovero explained how teens and young adults access different prescription medications and the associated risks.
Some drugs can be sold illegally on the street, but addictive painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet are often prescribed by medical professionals.
“Because the doctor is prescribing medicine for you, you don’t think it’s going to hurt you,” Rovero said.
Sedatives like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Ambien can lead to life-threatening seizures and lead to rapid addictions, she said. Stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine can lead to seizures and heart attacks, especially if the user does not have a condition for which the drug is normally prescribed.
According to Rovero, one of the most common risks of prescription drug abuse is the use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin.
California saw a sharp rise in deaths from fentanyl overdoses beginning in 2020 as trafficking routes from Mexico hardened and the unusually cheap drug began to enter local drug markets, reported. Bay Area News Group. The drug killed a record 5,722 Californians last year, more than 750 of whom were between the ages of 15 and 24.
Traces of fentanyl have been found in counterfeit prescription drugs, with OxyContin, Adderall and Xanax being the most common types of pills replicated and sold on the street, Sze said. Fentanyl can be deadly, even in small doses if the person taking it is intolerant to it.
“You don’t have to be a drug addict. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time or have the wrong friends at the wrong time. The only time you use these pills could be the end,” Sze said.
Both organizations focus on harm reduction tactics to treat addiction rather than contributing to the criminalization of drug use.
“The demand for these drugs will never drop to zero. We can’t stop getting by, so we’re focusing on harm reduction to make a substantial difference,” Rovero said.
To prevent future overdose deaths, the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse advocates for the free distribution of overdose treatment. Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is a life-saving drug given to people suffering from an opioid overdose.
Attendees at Wednesday’s event received samples of Narcan from officials at Adventist Health/Rideout, which distributes the drugs for free in its emergency room.
“Anyone can come in and ask for Narcan, no questions asked. The more we give to the community, the more lives we save,” said Shawndell Meder, coordinator at Adventist Health.
According to Rovero, Yuba County recently recorded 237 non-fatal overdoses, including 18 at Wheatland. In those cases, there have been 98 cases of multiple doses of Narcan being given to someone who overdosed, including nine in Wheatland, she said.
“Each of these numbers represents a person, a community, a county and our country,” Rovero said.
Narcan is often given as a nasal spray, but also comes in an injectable form. Attendants were given two doses of Narcan as a take-home spray. Narcan can also be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies.
A dose of Narcan can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the amount of opioids in a person’s system. Multiple doses can be given, but Rovero said it’s crucial to get someone who is overdosing to the emergency room as soon as possible, even if their condition appears to be improving.