Substance Abuse Prevention More Than a Month

Giovanna Brunetto, Staff Writer

   According to the San Diego County Deputy DA Beverly Barret, “You can die, or you can live but be badly damaged physically and mentally.” She was referring to the dangers of drugs, a problem permeating all corners of our world. In fact, we are currently deep into National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and it is important to think about just how dangerous and controlling drugs can be, and try to prevent the spread of their usage.

   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose has been the leading cause of injury-related death since 2009 ( Barret believes the problem is the lack of awareness that people, especially teens, have about what controlled substances can permanently do to the body. Freshman Lara Pinto agrees, and said, “Most [teenagers] do not see how it will affect their future now, but one day they will.”

A major concern right now is the deadliest drug available, an opioid called fentanyl. Opioids are powerful painkillers that do not just soothe physical pain, but also mental, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One opioid that has been said to have caused the current opioid crisis in America is called oxycodone, which is highly addictive and was over-prescribed by doctors (

Unfortunately, oxycodone pills are not as hard for people to obtain as one would think, as social media makes it easy for teens to get access to them. According to an addiction website, complications come with a person thinking they are buying oxycodone pills from trusted dealers, but they end up with laced or pure fentanyl pills. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equivalent to 10-15 grains of ordinary salt, are enough to kill someone (

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine or heroin, making it all the deadlier. One month ago, the DEA warned the United States about colorful fentanyl pills that resemble candy, making this a possible cause for concern this Halloween (dea. gov). This does not mean people need to put a stop to the trick-or-treating fun, but it is important to remain cautious and keep the dangers of fentanyl in mind.

Recently, a teenager bought a pill using Snapchat that he thought was oxycodone, but it turned out to be laced with enough fentanyl to kill five grown men. The teen died shortly after consuming the pill ( According to a drug- related statistics website, there are over 90,000 others who die from drug abuse every year, and 72 percent of the deaths involve opioids alone ( “Urge families to describe their realities of losing a loved one to drugs if they wish to make a difference and help prevent other families from going through the same thing,” said Barret.

The term “substance abuse” does not just include drug addiction, but also alcohol, smoking, and vaping addictions as well. “We live in a visual world, so we need to show photos. For example, photos of smokers with holes in their throats. Show pictures of black lungs caused by smoking and doing drugs,” said Barret. Barret wishes to discourage younger audiences from entertaining any substances. There is no type of person invincible to addiction.

This October, remember to keep all those families who have lost someone as a result of substance abuse in mind. This is a time to reflect on the harmful effects of these products and have important conversations regarding the subject with those that matter to you most. Barret said, “…doing drugs is like playing Russian roulette (with an addiction), and there is no coming back.”