The fight against fentanyl overdoses and deaths
According to mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2011 and 2017, the national death rate from synthetic opioids has increased by 1,125%. One of the main culprits behind the epidemic is synthetic fentanyl, which is being sold in place of counterfeit pills like Percocet, Xanax and Oxycontin. The drugs are easily found and purchased on social media sites, like Snapchat and Instagram.
With the recent uptick in fentanyl overdoses and deaths in Monterey County, especially among our youth, Montage Health has worked with Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Pacific Grove Unified School District, the City of Seaside, and more, to educate students, parents, and the community about the dangers of drug use to help students improve their mental health fitness, and protect them from the growing synthetic opioid epidemic.
What is fentanyl?
According to the CDC, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and 100 times 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 illegally manufactured (synthetic) fentanyl. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, most commonly after surgery, or for advanced-stages of cancer. However, most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdoses are linked to synthetic fentanyl, pills like fake Percocet pictured above are commonly the culprit. Due to it's extreme potency, synthetic fentanyl is being added to other drugs to increase the effects, cut down on cost, and make the drugs more addictive. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly half of all the counterfeit pills confiscated and tested contained a lethal dose of fentanyl.
Education, awareness and prevention
Want to learn more? Montage Health has partnered with others on several town halls recently, and educational videos, to help educate the community on the dangers of fentanyl. Learn how to talk to your children about drugs, what to look for, and how to administer Narcan, which can reverse the affects of an opioid overdose until help is reached.
On April 27, Montage Health partnered with the City of Seaside to distribute Narcan/Naxalone, the “cure” for an opioid overdose. More than 300 boxes (600+ doses), were distributed to community members at the event. Visit Prescribe Safe to find where you can get a free box of Narcan. Please note that Narcan is currently on short supply. Call locations first to be sure that you are eligible and that Narcan is available from a particular location.
Fentanyl Town Halls
Experts from Montage Health and Ohana participated in a town hall with MPUSD on May 4, 2022, and with PGUSD on May 28, 2022, where they distributed Narcan, the reversal agent for an opioid overdose (including fentanyl). Watch the recording. Additional town hall meetings are being discussed.
Montage Health doctors, Dr. Reb Close and Dr. Casey Grover, worked with MPUSD to create education videos for school-aged children and their parents:
How to administer Narcan
Dangers of fentanyl
Student and parent reflection on losing a loved one
Hope for the future: Montage Health Foundation and grant partners support prevention
Montage Health Foundation, Pebble Beach Company Foundation, Ohana, and MPUSD partnered to create a mental fitness program at MPUSD middle schools. Improved mental fitness will reduce the chances that our children turn to unprescribed medication and other substances to relieve their mental health challenges. Read the full story.
Montage Health Foundation and Monterey County Prescribe Safe Initiative were also granted funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for a three-year Drug-Free Communities grant to address and reduce youth substance use in our MPUSD schools. The hope is that the work done here will be utilized for schools across Monterey County. Furthermore, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation has provided Montage Health Foundation and Prescribe Safe with a grant to develop a multi-year roadmap on how to address youth substance use. Strategies developed can be adapted throughout Monterey County.