A powerful new video about the dangers of fentanyl is now available for Ventura County teens and parents. The video, Real Talk: Fake Pills, 100% Danger, was produce by the Ventura County Opioid Abuse Suppression Taskforce (COAST) and lunched on National Fentanyl Awareness Day. It features real stories about lives that have been devastated by this dangerous opioid and interviews with young people who have successfully overcome their addiction. We encourage families to use this video as a tool to start a conversation with their students to help protect them from fentanyl and other illicit drugs.
The video is available in English with Spanish subtitles at https://bit.ly/nfad-vc.
Additional information about the local effort to protect students from fentanyl is in the column below that appeared in the Ventura County Star.
May 7, 2023
By Scott Gilman, Ventura County Behavioral Health Director & Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools
The dangers of fentanyl, the illicit drug that is having devastating effects on communities across the country, are well known. Sadly, Ventura County is no stranger to this reality. National Fentanyl Awareness Day, May 9th, was established by parents who have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis. It is supported by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and numerous public and behavioral health departments, corporations, nonprofits, schools, families of overdose victims and elected officials who aim to raise public awareness about this urgent and growing problem.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is safely used in medical settings for pain relief every day. However, because it is cheap, potent, and relatively easy to make, a black-market version of fentanyl has grown into the street drug market.
Ventura County has a long history of working to prevent accidental overdose, even before fentanyl became the latest crisis in the opioid epidemic. The Opioid & Illicit Drug Workgroup brought together leaders at every level of county government, along with community stakeholders countywide.
Comparing fentanyl overdose deaths in our county from 2020-2022, there was an increase from 87 deaths in 2020 to 164 in 2021 and most recently, another jump up, to 181 fatalities for 2022.
We have a naloxone distribution program which has distributed 8,920 overdose rescue kits since it started and has documented 2,441 overdose reversals (lives saved) during that timeframe. But current efforts are not enough.
We are intensifying our collaboration with local law enforcement, public health professionals, clinic and hospital systems, as well as the Office of the Medical Examiner to obtain and visualize data, better enabling us to geo-target our efforts in reaching the populations at higher risk for overdose. And we are finding new ways to inform and protect vulnerable groups.
Our inaugural Youth Summit: Real Talk: Fake Pills, 100% Danger, will inform high school students around the county on the dangers of opioids in our community. The Ventura County Office of Education is proud to be a partner in the effort to reach young people in high school classrooms.
A website, www.venturacountyresponds.org, provides information and resources about the opioid crisis to our community. It features a dashboard that tracks local stats like opioid-related deaths, lives saved with naloxone, prescriptions for opioids in a given year, and other important statistics. Over the past three years in our county, there has been an 24% reduction in opioid prescriptions, thanks to medical providers employing safer prescribing practices. But even while prescriptions for opioid medication have gone down, deaths from fentanyl and fake pills, have gone up.
Since 2016, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have been the leading cause of accidental overdose deaths in the U.S., and the world. While we may never fully eradicate fentanyl overdose deaths in our county, we are committed to preventing as many as possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, including an addiction to fentanyl, please contact our Access Line at 1-844-385-9200, toll free, 24/7.
The County of Ventura is committed to the safety and well-being of everyone in our community. Please know that your county Behavioral Health Department, Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the Ventura County Office of Education and hospital systems are redoubling our efforts to reduce the risks and save lives.