The New “F Word”


Anastasia Dotson, Staff Writer

     As students prepared for spring break festivities, Plano ISD created an educational presentation to bring awareness to the dangers of fentanyl. After a rise in overdose cases due to fentanyl, the school district stressed the importance of living a drug-free life.

     “Fentanyl is a drug that we are seeing that is hidden within other pills, and just even the smallest amount will kill you,” Officer Courtney Casey said “The thing is that time is not on our side.”

     Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50x stronger than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S. There are two types of fentanyl, pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The most recent cases related to fentanyl have been illicit fentanyl, which is contributed through illegal drugs and other drugs because of its extreme potency. This proves to be more dangerous as you cannot see, smell or taste fentanyl when it is mixed with other drugs.

     “You don’t even know when you have taken it, so for you guys and us it’s super dangerous because you really don’t know,” Casey said. “Don’t take anything if you don’t know what it is or where it came from.”

     Illicit fentanyl is responsible for a growing number of deaths. Some case series have suggested that Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl overdoses require significantly higher naloxone doses than heroin overdoses.

     “The sad thing about this drug is that it’s taking away family members and friends left to right,” a Plano Senior student said. “I lost my cousin in 2019 due to being laced, you don’t know when something is laced. He overdosed twice, but the second time we couldn’t save him. He was only 17.”

     Drug overdose deaths rose from 70,630 deaths in 2019 to more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2021. The deaths involved with synthetic opioids other than methadone, primarily fentanyl, continued to rise with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021.

     “Nobody thinks it’ll actually happen until it does, especially to people close to you,” junior Faith Anderson said. “Losing my friend has been so hard for me and [many] people that were close to her, we all loved her so much. This drug is way too powerful and you never know what’s in something you take.”

     According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, among youth and young adults aged 15 to 24 years, the average annual OD death rate is 12.6 out of every 100,000. 

     “Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram said in a PSA video.  “Fentanyl is everywhere.  From large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe from this poison.  We must take every opportunity to spread the word to prevent fentanyl-related overdose deaths and poisonings from claiming scores of American lives every day.”