April 27 set for renewed campaign vs fentanyl

While the fentanyl epidemic has gained national traction in recent years due to its rapid spread through illegal trades and manufacturing, there’s other drugs that the Drug Enforcement Agency and Tempe Coalition have their eyes on, and they’re likely sitting in your cabinet at home. 

We’re talking about over-the-counter medicine. Outside of marijuana and alcohol, old and unused prescriptions are the most commonly abused drugs of teens 14 and older. That’s why the Tempe Coalition has taken the initiative to educate the community and fight back, partnering with the Tempe Police Department and the DEA for National Drug Take back day. On April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., those with unused or expired medications can drop them off at the Hardy police substation for proper disposal through the MedReturn. The goal is to help bring attention to the eminent drug problem within the community while providing responsible disposal so they do not fall into the wrong hands. And the easiest way for community members to make an impact is to stop misuse before it happens.

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According to the Tempe Coalition website, heroin is the most addictive substance. Fentanyl, however, is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 percent stronger than morphine, despite both being vital to the medical world. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is distributed through the drug trade for its heroine-like effect and a lethal dose could fit on the tip of a pencil. Arizona ranks 6th highest in the nation for individuals 12 years and older misusing and abusing prescription drugs, according to Tempe Coalition’s website. Since 2017, over 1,100 18-to 24-year old’s have died of an opioid overdose, according to Substance Abuse Coalition Leaders of Arizona.

“We have local youth as young as 14 who have lost their lives from taking a counterfeit pill they got at a party,” Bernadette Coggins, the program director for Tempe Coalition, said. “As many students are headed off to college, they need to be aware that any pill not prescribed to them by a medical doctor could be counterfeit (Adderall, Percocet) and it was laced with fentanyl.

“Even more frightening, is these deadly drugs can be in vapes, powders, and any drug off the street.” Access to drugs and alcohol has never been easier with amount of youth with cell phones on social media. This further emphasizes the need for educating and preventing.

“The Tempe Coalition is providing education and resources to our three local school districts and have recently completed Narcan training for over 450 educators and every Kyrene and Tempe Union campus has trained staff,” said Coggins, adding that Naloxone is available if ever needed to save a life. Coalition members represent a wide range of community sectors including; business, media, law enforcement, schools, substance abuse providers, youth, parents, youth-serving organizations, civic groups, healthcare professionals, governmental agencies, and faith-based organizations, said Coggins.

“As a parent, I have seen many families suffer from the results of drug abuse and the devastation it leaves when a family loses their child to a deadly fentanyl poisoning,” she said. “We are living in different times and everyone needs to be on high alert. Parents must be informed and talk to their children. “It can be the difference between life and death.”

For more information about Drug Take back or Tempe Coalition email bernadette_coggins@tempe. gov or pay an online visit to TempeCoalition.org



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