Today marks the inaugural Fentanyl Awareness & Prevention Day in Maricopa and around the country, and City Council issued a proclamation to raise awareness of the synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 107,000 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses and poisonings in 2021, about 67 percent involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Only two milligrams of fentanyl is a potentially lethal dose.
Lucinda Boyd, co-founder of The Streets Don’t Love You Back, a Maricopa group that provides education and services to local youths, said the community must move beyond its conceptions of why people are suffering from fentanyl poisoning.
“We must stop the stigma, the stereotype, the drug-user assumptions and misconceptions that fentanyl poisonings occur only with addicted users,” Boyd said. “Anyone can die. Most are not drug addicts. Fentanyl poisoning is real, and our children are dying.”
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb told the Maricopa City Council last Tuesday that citizens must raise their awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and how widespread the problem has become.
Lamb said that Pinal County typically has about 750 overdoses a year and growing – incidents he prefers to call “poisonings.” He said in Arizona 33 children have died of fentanyl this year, seven of them under the age of 1.
“That alone should wake us up,” he said. “I’m grateful to Lucinda and Rob (Boyd, Lucinda’s husband and co-founder of The Streets Don’t Love You Back) for doing this and I’m grateful to the city of Maricopa and the City Council for recognizing a problem that exists and not being afraid to address it.
“When this becomes the leading cause of death in America, with over 100,000 lives lost in a year, it should be on the front page of every newspaper, on every news station and every politician’s mouth, but unfortunately, it’s not. It’s going unspoken of, and it’s left for us to clean up the mess.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is recognizing National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day by joining the many groups and law enforcement agencies dedicated to educating the public about the serious dangers of fentanyl poisoning from fake pills and other illicit drugs.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the DEA supports the efforts of several organizations, including the Alexander Neville Foundation, Blue Plaid Society, Facing Fentanyl, Voices for Awareness and V.O.I.D. – to amplify nationwide efforts to increase awareness of the highly addictive and dangerous drugs containing fentanyl that continue driving the opioid epidemic.
“Fentanyl is the single-deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram told Homeland Security Today. “From large cities to rural America, no community is safe from the presence of fentanyl. DEA is proud to work with families who have been affected by fentanyl poisonings to spread the word and to save lives.”