Local school district raises awareness on life-threatening drug

Exeter Unified takes steps to ensure local students, families recognize effects of a fentanyl with an informational forum

EXETER – Exeter Unified is ensuring parents, students and families are well-informed on the dangerous effects of fentanyl by hosting a forum with law enforcement agencies on Oct. 24. 

Due to the deadly effects and numerous seizures of the drug, Beth Miciari, principal of Exeter Community Day School and Exeter Independent Study, said the district would like to make youth and families aware of the opioid’s overall impact on communities.

“It’s a proactive approach to inform parents and students about the dangers of fentanyl,” Micari said. “And making them aware of what to look for and the dangers of it.”

“There’s obviously so much we can do to watch our kids as they grow up into teens,” Tyson said. “But hopefully, [parents] will be more aware of seeing pills, or anything they don’t recognize and, hopefully, they can understand the dangers.”

According to Tyson, the sheriff’s office has noticed an increase of fentanyl found in the county. Tyson said drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and Percocet are more frequently becoming laced with fentanyl and, in response, there is a nationwide epidemic of overdoses by teenagers. Although there has been no indication of increased overdoses amongst the teen population in Tulare County, Tyson said the sheriff’s office’s crime division is making more arrests of individuals with fentanyl in their possession. He said this year, the crimes division have taken in 2,450 fentanyl pills as well as 27,983 grams of the drug.

Tyson also said nationwide in 2021, there were a reported 1,146 deaths amongst teenagers from drug overdose, and 884 of them were attributed to fentanyl, which makes up 77% of the overall number.

In addition to Tyson, Exeter Police Chief John Hall and Tulare County District 1 Board Supervisor Larry Micari – husband of Beth Micari – will be in attendance to the forum to provide further information and answer questions. Staff with EUSD administration will also be there.

Also according to Beth Micari, the forum came about after the school board inquired about spreading awareness on fentanyl and she, along with other school staff, began to do more research on the impacts of the opioid. After that, she said the board of supervisors was able to connect the district with the sheriff’s office and the police department to arrange the forum.

“I reached out to the agencies to see if they had some kind of educational information [on fentanyl] that they could put out,” Micari said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The drug is approved for treating severe pain usually associated with advanced stages of cancer and is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches and lozenges. 

The CDC website states that recent cases of harm, overdose and death from fentanyl in the U.S. are linked to an illegally made version of the drug. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effects and is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product, whether the user knows about it or not, in order to increase the drug’s euphoric effects.

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