Police officers seized approximately 6,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on August 28, 2019. Photo courtesy of LBPD.

Long Beach school officials are advising parents to warn their children about the dangers of drugs after three students overdosed on illicit pills in Los Angeles County last month.

“During this heightened party season with graduations and end-of-school-year celebrations, we all hope that our teenagers already know the dangers of drug use,” LBUSD officials said in a statement Thursday. “As an extra precaution, we urge parents to discuss the significant dangers of ingesting any illicit pills, particularly pills purchased online or given to them at parties.”

While there is no direct connection to LBUSD students, the warning comes after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced on May 27 that there was a growing concern that large amounts of ecstasy pills contaminated with fentanyl were circulating around the LA drug market. Two days earlier, authorities discovered three young women at an LA County residence that had accidentally overdosed after crushing up and snorting blue circular tablets that an online drug dealer told them were ecstasy, according to the health department. The dealer allegedly had a large bag full of the same pills that young women took that day, according to the health department.

Responding authorities used Naloxone—a nasal spray used to counteract opioid overdoses—and the three young women responded positively, officials said.

“This has impacted both adults and youth,” according to the health department. “In 2021, fentanyl was identified in about 77% of adolescent overdose deaths nationally.”

Fentanyl is a high-potency synthetic opioid that is difficult to identify without the use of drug test strips since it is colorless and odorless. It can cause rapid respiratory depression resulting in accidental death, according to the health department. When cut with other synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, it increases the likelihood of death.

“Fentanyl and methamphetamine-related overdose deaths have increased in Los Angeles County since the pandemic and continue to rise at an alarming rate,” according to the health department. “Awareness of these substances is necessary for both the general public, including youth and adults, as well as healthcare providers.”

Click here for more resources on treating and preventing drug overdoes.

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