COLORADO SPRINGS — Parents in El Paso County School District 49 joined in on a conversation about fentanyl Wednesday night at Sand Creek High School. The district organized the event in hopes of warning the community about the dangerous reality of the drug.
Parents and students were taught about the prevalence of fentanyl in their community, how exposure to the drug happens, how to recognize a fentanyl overdose, and what District 49 schools are doing to quickly respond to medical emergencies.
District 49 school resource officer Dean Baird and district school nurse Lena Orcutt lead the conversation. Orcutt said the prevalence of drug overdose worries her being around teens every day.
"I really feel these kids as my kids," she said. "A lot of these students don't know what they're taking. It's very sad. I feel like there are people that are purposely targeting our youth. I mean, that's a good way to take out our future."
Last year, El Paso County lost more youth to fentanyl overdose than suicide. Rocio Padilla, a mom of a fourth and eighth grader in District 49 schools, said she came to the meeting to learn how to have a conversation about drugs with her children.
"Just being aware, so we can have these conversations sooner rather than later," Padilla said. "Sometimes those conversations are uncomfortable and we have to have them so we can help guide our children and keep them safe."
Fentanyl has played a part in around 77% of all teen drug overdoses in 2021, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Colorado saw an increase in fentanyl deaths by almost 70% from 2020 to 2021. More than 900 people died in the state from fentanyl, including 10% of those in El Paso County, according to Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment.
Right now District 49 said they have Narcan, the drug used to counteract the effects of opioid overdose, at all secondary schools. All staff members, school nurses, and school resource officers are trained in administering Narcan.
Orcutt says that four in every 10 counterfeit fentanyl pills can be lethal, which is why it is so dangerous for teens to be experimenting with fentanyl. She said the best thing parents can do to make sure their children are safe is to have a conversation about fentanyl now rather than later.
"Just be involved in your child's life. Just be there for them. They're going to open up and talk to you if you're involved," she said.
Here is a list of local resources for drug addiction and recovery:
- Sandstone Care
- Adult Youth Services
- Colorado Community Health Alliance (accepts Medicaid)
- Helping Hands El Paso County Community Resources
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