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'One pill can kill,' Jacksonville mother shares daughter's story of addiction to save others

Andrea Lee is fighting to save lives through her daughter Amanda's story with a strong warning about fentanyl.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Jacksonville mother is fighting to save lives through her daughter's story with a strong warning about fentanyl.

Andrea Lee's daughter, Amanda Paige Harris, relapsed in her addiction when the pandemic hit and was killed by fentanyl, an opioid up to 100 times stronger than heroin. 

This week Lee heads to Washington, D.C., to march with other families who've lost loved ones.

Amanda's story is one that many more people are facing in their own families now. Thirty percent more people, which is tens of thousands more people, died from overdoses last year than the year before according to the CDC. 

"They have a picture in their mind of what you would think an addict would be," said Lee. "You would have never looked at her and said she was an addict."

Lee's says Amanda struggled with addiction for 10 years.

"She was a functioning addict until COVID hit and that really turned the spiral the other way," said Lee.

RELATED: Mother loses son during pandemic, wants those struggling with addiction to get help

Amanda got a full-ride to college and got cosmetic surgery for her high school graduation. She was given OxyContin and became addicted.

"And that is how this whole nightmare started," said Lee. "I'm choosing to talk to you, to tell my daughter's story without embarrassment, to make people aware."

Last October Amanda was killed by fentanyl. Two milligrams can be lethal.

"One pill can kill," said Lee.

Addiction experts say fentanyl is now being found in more drugs, including marijuana. Amanda's story is the story of more than 94,000 others killed by overdoses last year. 

"What parents, what people also need to realize, mainly the addict needs to realize, is what they're doing to those of us that are left after they're gone," she said. "It destroyed me for a while. I had a complete mental breakdown, for three months I lost. I don't know how I even survived that."

Now Lee's life is much different.

"Helping people is what helps me," she said. "Driving anywhere to meet a mom in crisis, sitting with her all night if I have to."

What keeps her going is the story of Amanda's life that can now help to save others.

"Telling her story, being her voice," said Lee.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration help line at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

RELATED: Camden County pleads community to refrain from drugs after overdoses from fentanyl-laced narcotics

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