Fentanyl risks are skyrocketing across the state

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Fentanyl is the most common substance found in opioid overdose deaths in Arizona – teens as young as 14 years old have overdosed and died. Illegal fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. This is especially dangerous because people are often unaware that fentanyl has been added.

Stephanie Siete, of Community Bridges, is a leading expert on drug trends, prevention, signs, and symptoms, and has worked for more than a decade to educate the public about drug dangers. Siete joined Horizon to discuss the issue and bring awareness.

“Poison, I think that’s the key word with this, we can’t just be calling this a drug, it’s a poisoning of America, that’s what’s happening with this,” said Siete.

Fentanyl risks and overdoses are skyrocketing across the state.

“Because of the prevalence, it’s very cheap in Arizona,” said Siete. “You you can get a fentanyl pill on the street for as little as one dollar, maybe it goes to the east coast, and it’s 60 to 80 dollars a pill out there, but that’s how much is coming through Arizona.”

According to Siete, fentanyl is so common in border states like Arizona because it is frequently brought in from Mexico. Because fentanyl is cheap and prevalent, it is often used in other drugs.

“You’ve got a good shot at overdosing and dying by taking any pill off the street now a days,” said Siete. “A lot of this fentanyl is appearing in different pill forms, six out of ten of these pills contain enough fentanyl to kill somebody.”

Fentanyl is very potent. Even small amounts of fentanyl can do significant damage, as noted by Siete. In an effort to combat the fentanyl crisis, the FDA recently made the the Narcan, a medication to reverse opioid overdoes, available over the counter.

Siete says she hopes that fentanyl risks reduce soon. However, due to the precedency of the drug, she thinks it be a long-term conversation to see real impacts.

“Take note. This is not a joke, there’s a reason they call it the deadliest drug in America,” said Siete. “I’ve been taking about drugs for 20 years and we’ve never seen anything like this.”

Fentanyl deaths are devastating for the family members of victims. Theresa Guerrero lost her son, Jacob, in May 2020 to a fentanyl overdose. She still grieves to this day.

“I was crying, I was just- I was hysterical,” said Guerrero.

Ever since then, she has been advocating for a change and for fentanyl overdoses to become a murder charge. In honor of her son, Guerrero plans to bike in El Tour de Tucson.

“I’m hoping to buy a jersey and have something about fentanyl and my son’s memory on the back of the jersey,” said Guerrero.

Recently, she has spoken at hearings at the Arizona State Legislature and at local news stations in Tucson. Billboards of Jacob have appeared in New York City, Arizona, Ohio, and more states.

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