Dear Monrovia Unified Families:
On behalf of the Monrovia Unified School District, I want to provide you with information regarding the growing use of the drug Fentanyl. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a health alert after four adolescents overdosed after purchasing counterfeit narcotic pills in Los Angeles, including one student, who was found deceased on September 13, 2022.
Nationwide, there has been a growing trend of illicit drugs (particularly methamphetamine and cocaine) and counterfeit pills contaminated with fentanyl and other life-threatening substances. This has impacted both adults and youth. In 2021, fentanyl was identified in about 77% of adolescent overdose deaths nationally, and over 80% of drug overdose deaths among adolescents aged 15–19 in 2015 were unintentional. Fentanyl and methamphetamine-related overdose deaths have increased in Los Angeles County even before the pandemic and continue to rise at an alarming rate.
Fentanyl is a high-potency synthetic opioid that is colorless and odorless and can cause rapid respiratory depression resulting in accidental death. Awareness of the risk of fentanyl in counterfeit pills, stimulants, and other substances sold outside pharmacies is necessary for the general public, including youth and adults, as well as healthcare providers.
Below are some resources for families related to this important topic:
Parents and guardians should talk about drug use with adolescents
Parents and guardians should use honest language that emphasizes their values and concerns about drug use
Open conversations that evoke adolescents’ understanding and experiences are more effective than lecturing and utilizing scare tactics.
DEA warns of brightly-colored fentanyl used to target young Americans
Parents and guardians should consider that not all youth immediately show changes in behaviors if they are using substances, so parents should initiate age-appropriate conversations with their children about substance use.
Please take some time to speak with your student about the dangers of drug use and fentanyl in particular. While it may sometimes feel like teenagers tune conversations about these crucial topics out, please believe me - they do indeed hear you. It is also essential to remain vigilant by asking your student many questions, always knowing their whereabouts, knowing who your student is spending time with, and looking for any potential signs of drug use.
Finally, MUSD has many resources available to our families within the district. Those resources include our district’s Wellness Center at MHS, our dedicated team of school counselors, mental health services through partnerships with Care Solace & D'Veal Family and Youth Services, and more. If you or your student needs support, do not hesitate to reach out to your school’s principal or office manager for assistance.
Ryan D. Smith, Ed.D.