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.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction