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America marks first National Fentanyl Awareness Day amid overdose surge

Over 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Carol Schweigert is preparing to observe another sad anniversary.

Her son Trey passed away four years ago this week after buying what he thought was a Percocet on the street for a skateboarding injury. It turned out to be a counterfeit pill containing a deadly dose of fentanyl.

"Our life as we know it is over," she said. "Our family will never be whole again. We have to live with that every day. Every holiday. Every birthday."

Carol has now made it her mission in life to tell people about the dangers of counterfeit pills. She talks with school groups and advocates for awareness with state and local leaders.

But the deaths keep coming.

"I feel like I'm yelling really loudly and no one hears me," she said.

In 2021 alone there were 107,000 overdose deaths in America.

The overwhelming majority of them, 66%, were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl - a drug 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

According to the National Safety Council, the chances of dying from a drug overdose are now greater than dying in a car accident.

As little as a dozen grains of it can be lethal and dealers are now pushing the pills through anonymous social media platforms like Snapchat.

Compounding Schweigert's pain is the fact that another member of her son's friend group recently died from fentanyl poisoning as well.

"The hardship for this friend group is enormous," Carol said. "To have to continue to say goodbye to their best friends is really hard." 

Schweigert said America's first National Fentanyl Awareness day is a step in the right direction, but she believes much more should be done.

She would like to see a national awareness campaign similar to the one for COVID-19 - so no more families have to suffer the way hers has.

"We should should get in front of this train and not just keep following it," Carol said. "Until that happens we're going to continue to have unnecessary deaths."