Marissa received a call from a family member telling her a picture of her 15-year-old son Issaiah is circulating on Snapchat, and he’s passed out. The post said he took a Percocet. She got a call informing her what hospital her son was at, and when she arrived at the hospital, the doctors said we could not find Percocet in his system. We are pretty sure your son ingested fentanyl, and he is not going to make it. Marissa felt her heartbreak as she saw her son’s future fade away and the grief of knowing she would never hear his voice again and wishing she had a chance to warn him of the dangers of counterfeit pills.
Counterfeit pills are just like counterfeit money. They look like the real thing, and in fact, you cannot tell the difference. Most, if not all, street drugs are now laced with this deadly killer, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but up to 100 times more potent and highly addictive. Think of a grain of salt. A standard dose of fentanyl would be equivalent to 5 grains of salt. 12 grains can cause an overdose, and in many cases, death. These counterfeits are especially dangerous because the amount of fentanyl varies from pill to pill. They are mixed in five-gallon buckets, pressed into pills, and find their way across the border into our communities. You could take that one pill thinking it is Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycodone, or hydrocodone. But instead, it’s a counterfeit pill with a lethal dose of fentanyl.
“Blues,” the street name for counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl (because of their color), have become common. You may also hear them referred to as “M30s” for the stamp commonly found on each pill.
The efforts of the Way Out West Coalition include sharing stories much like Marissa’s to create awareness and educate parents and youth about underage drinking, substance use, and especially the rise of fentanyl. We share these stories through our various social media platforms. We receive countless comments from people who have lost multiple friends, family members, and children to counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. Marissa would give anything to have the chance to go back in time to have that conversation with Issaiah. She would tell him how much she loves him and that he needs to know how dangerous it can be to take just one pill, because that One Pill Can Kill.