LAUSD schools respond to Fentanyl


Davis Marks and Chloe Park

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LADPH) issued a health alert Sept. 15 after four teenagers overdosed on counterfeit narcotic pills in Hollywood, including one student who was found dead in a bathroom at Bernstein High School. The overdose was due to traces of fentanyl found in the pills, and all LAUSD schools will be provided with Narcan, a treatment for narcotic overdose in emergency situations, in the coming weeks as a safety precaution, according to ABC News.

Following a number of teenage fentanyl overdoses in Los Angeles, the school’s counseling team sent an all-school email sharing the news. Head of Peer Support Tina McGraw said she sent the email to students to increase awareness and ensure students understand its risks.

“We forwarded the health alert because we want [students] to be aware of the very real dangers of fentanyl,” McGraw said. “We want students to have information so that they can make better decisions and can pass on this information to other young people in their lives.”

Fentanyl, a high potency synthetic opioid, can often be found in counterfeit pills, stimulants and other substances sold outside of pharmacies. In 2021, fentanyl was identified as the cause of 77% of teenage overdose deaths nationally, according to LADPH.

In 2021, fentanyl was identified in about 77% of adolescent overdose deaths nationally

McGraw said that while teenagers are not intentionally consuming fentanyl, the lack of awareness results in consumption via other drugs.

“This is a substance that is killing too many young people who are not aware that it is now everywhere in the illicit drug supply,” McGraw said. “Fentanyl is now found in every type of street drug, many of which are pressed to look like prescription drugs, often confusing young people who may believe they are buying a pharmaceutically manufactured medication when in fact they are buying a fenta-pill.”

Juliet Katz ’23, who volunteers as a Teen Listener for Teen Line, said the school’s work to address the fentanyl epidemic will help prevent overdoses.

“The fentanyl problem is an epidemic, and I believe that the best way to take precaution is through education, [and]learning from friends and family how serious this drug is and how impossible it is to detect it,” Katz said. “This year and [last year], our school has made efforts to communicate the dangers of this drug, both to parents and the student body.”

Like Katz, Illi Kreiz ’24 said education about fentanyl and other substances allows teenagers to become more aware about the consequences of using substances.

“I appreciate the Counseling Team sending this reminder to us about the dangers of fentanyl and their consistent work to educate students about it,” Kreiz said. “Fentanyl is often lethal, and because it can be found in so many drugs, it causes many accidental deaths among teenagers. It’s important that we’re educated about fentanyl so we can remain vigilant of it and prevent future overdoses.”

The email also urged community members to contact the school’s counselors if they have any questions or concerns about fentanyl, other substances or mental health. Those who know someone experiencing an overdose should immediately seek emergency care, the counselors said.

To reach the Teen Line hotline, call (310) 855-4673 or text “TEEN” to 839863