Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
October 27, 2022

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Principals:

Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis Among California Youth

California faces a rapidly growing epidemic affecting youth and adults that predates COVID-19 by nearly a decade. In 2012, California suffered 82 tragic deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses, and last year that number jumped to more than 6,000. Fentanyl deaths accounted for more than 80 percent of all drug-related deaths among California’s young people in 2021. Most of our young victims ingested fentanyl accidentally, thinking they were using something less dangerous. It is the fastest growing cause of death for young people in our state, and we must lean in and confront this drug crisis now.

The time to act is now. I encourage all local educational agencies to take immediate steps to educate students, staff, and families so that we can prevent unintended use of this deadly drug. This is also a critical moment to intervene and help youth and families who are struggling with substance abuse disorders and those who are using drugs to cope with trauma, loss, or mental illness.

While we have dealt with painful epidemics and spikes in illicit drug use before, there are elements of this crisis that are different. Often, teens think they are purchasing Adderall, OxyContin, Percocet, or Xanax pills, but drug dealers are making these fake pills with the cheaper, stronger, and deadlier synthetic drug fentanyl. Fentanyl can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Teens never know what they are getting. One pill can kill them.

Please see the attached document for resources and updates.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:ko
Attachment: Combatting Fentanyl with Actions and Resources Flyer (PDF)

Last Reviewed: Friday, October 28, 2022

Recently Posted in Letters


  • Workforce Readiness Week and Labor History Month (added 29-Mar-2024)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding Workforce Readiness Week (April 29 to May 3, 2024) and May is Labor History Month.
  • 2024 California Student Mock Election (added 27-Mar-2024)
    Letter from the California Department of Education and the Secretary of State to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Middle and High School Principals regarding the 2024 California Student Mock Election.
  • Personal Finance Education Summit (added 26-Mar-2024)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding tomorrow's Personal Finance Education Summit.
  • HS Voter Education Weeks (April 15–26, 2024) (added 22-Mar-2024)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and High School Principals from the California Department of Education and the California Secretary of State regarding High School Voter Education Weeks.
  • 2025 California Teachers of the Year Program (added 20-Mar-2024)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding the 2025 California Teachers of the Year Program.