LA Unified Warns of Fentanyl After 3 Students Overdose

LA Unified Warns of Fentanyl After 3 Students Overdose
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference at the office of the New York Attorney General, in New York, on Sept. 23, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Micaela Ricaforte

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) issued a health alert June 1 warning parents and students about the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs after three LAUSD students overdosed last week.

The three teenage girls were hospitalized May 25 after consuming a drug laced with fentanyl—a synthetic opioid about 100 times stronger than morphine. Officials said the students thought they were buying ecstasy online.

LAUSD officials advised parents to educate their children “about making healthy choices and about the dangers of ingesting any illicit drugs especially as we enter into end-of-year celebrations and the summer.”

The county public health department released an alert, stating there is a “strong likelihood” these drugs are being distributed throughout the community.

“The incident highlights the growing national and local trend of illicit drugs and counterfeit pills being contaminated with illegally manufactured fentanyl and other stimulant contaminants with toxicity impacting multiple organ systems, including the heart and brain, that can lead to multiple symptoms,” the LA County Public Health Department said in the alert May 31.

The three students overdosed on the drugs at an apartment in Santa Monica. Their ages were not released by LAUSD, nor was whether the students took the drugs on district campus grounds.

At the time of the overdose, the girls were taken to a hospital, with authorities initially saying two of the teens were in critical but stable condition, and the third was conscious and alert.

LA County has seen a rise in opioid substance abuse in recent years, with opioid-related deaths jumping nearly 40 percent in 2021 from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mothers Against Drug Deaths, a group of parents calling for more drug regulation, marched on the state Capitol last month, demanding Gov. Gavin Newsom do more to solve the state’s fentanyl crisis.

Mock sizing of a potentially lethal dose of Fentanyl, on April 1, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Mock sizing of a potentially lethal dose of Fentanyl, on April 1, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jacqui Berlinn, co-founder of Mothers Against Drug Deaths, told The Epoch Times that many young people get their drugs from social media platforms, such as Snapchat.

“A lot of young people order drugs from dealers on Snapchat, and then the drugs get delivered to your door just like a pizza,” Berlinn said.

Many of these substances come from across the U.S.-Mexico border, where fentanyl gets mixed in with other drugs, according to Berlinn.

People who accidentally consume fentanyl laced in other drugs can often develop an addiction to fentanyl, Berlinn said.

Berlinn said her son was a heroin addict until he developed a fentanyl addiction from accidentally smoking fentanyl-laced heroin.

Sometimes, fentanyl poisoning can also cause death; Mothers Against Drug Deaths co-founder Michelle Leopold’s son died of a fentanyl-laced pill.

To prevent such addictions and deaths, the group is calling on Newsom to end open-air drug markets—such as the ones in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District and Skid Row and Venice Beach in LA—and to declare a state of emergency on fentanyl.

“I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of this, and if you’re a parent, you have to talk to your kids about this,” Berlinn said. “Fentanyl is deadly. People could be curious and try it one time, and then they lose their lives.”

In addition to fentanyl, LAUSD is also concerned with students accessing other drugs such as marijuana.

Last week, LAUSD officials issued a statement expressing concern over new cannabis-infused products that look like regular candies and gummies, and incidents of children mistakenly ingesting such products.

The district said it is working with local authorities to close or relocate cannabis dispensaries near school campuses.

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.