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Fentanyl overdoses are on the rise within the younger demographic

"Just in 90 days alone we've gone from 0 to 22(overdoses)"

ODESSA, Texas —
Fentanyl is classified as a synthetic opioid and is fifty to sixty times stronger than morphine.

That means it doesn't take much to kill you.

"January to April in Texas alone, we had enough fentanyl captured coming across the border, just in Texas, to provide 21 million fatal doses," said Philip M. Van Guilder, Mental Health Evangelist, of Greenhouse Treatment Center.

Just in Odessa, the number of overdoses has skyrocketed in recent months.

"Just in 90 days alone we've gone from 0 to 22," said Odessa Police Officer, Ian Kapets.

What's also scary, it's affecting a lot of young people WHO are buying drugs AND, most the time, don't even know THEY have fentanyl in them.

"So today, we don't see any street drug that is not cut with fentanyl," said Van Guilder.

Easy access is also part of the growing problem.

"It's just so available today and these young people on social media, they don't need to go anywhere to go get it." said Van Guilder. 

So, it's important to keep an eye on what your kids are doing and who they are interacting with.

"Have those conversations with your kids, be mindful of what applications are being used. If there's a lot of social media make sure your involved in your kid's social media profiles, who they are messaging, and seeing what they're communicating about, who they are communicating with," said Kepets.

Another important step in combatting this problem is stopping the fear of getting in trouble for admitting they have a problem, and moving the conversation to getting help.

"We've got to change this proposition that if you come forward and ask for help, that some way or another you're going to be harmed, or you're going to be treated as less than. We've got to make it so that if you ask for help you're in a safe space," said  Van Guilder 

Part of making the community better is bringing awareness to this issue so that families and communities can have open conversations about drug use and overdoses, you might see billboards up just like this which is an effort by Odessa Police and the community to do just that.

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