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Survey: Florida teens lack awareness about fentanyl dangers

A recent survey found half of Florida teens said they had not heard of counterfeit Xanax, Percocet, or OxyContin pills being made with fentanyl.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A recent survey of Florida high schoolers revealed 70% of students surveyed had not had anyone at their school discuss the dangers of fentanyl with them.

The poison is being laced into all kinds of street drugs and fake pills, and it’s frequently sold on social media platforms like Snapchat making illicit fentanyl easily accessible to teens.

“Career agents within the DEA, who've been doing this for 20 years cannot tell the difference between a real Percocet and a fentanyl Percocet, cannot tell the difference between a real Adderall and a fentanyl Adderall,” James Fishback said. “And even though there's no visible difference, the one difference is the one that's fentanyl is very likely to kill you.”

Fishback is the Executive Director of the Incubate Foundation which is launching Not Even Once (NEO), a statewide in-school assembly series to warn students about fentanyl.

“Don’t try these drugs, not even once, because it may be the last thing you ingest,” Fishback said.

It's a message he says more Florida students need to hear. Incubate surveyed 320 students across 27 Florida counties.

“What we found was unbelievable. When students were asked if someone at their school had talked to them about lethal fentanyl, seven out of 10 said no,” Fishback said. “This just speaks to really the issue, which is a lack of education on behalf of students. We asked them as well, how many of them had heard of popular drugs like Percocet, Xanax, or Oxycontin being made with lethal fentanyl and half of the students didn't even know that.”

That's why NEO is going into middle and high schools across Florida.

“All of the academic research indicates young people listen to young people, so all of our top Incubate Debates students who participate in our statewide debate initiative, we are working with them. We are getting them up to speed on all of the facts, working with our partnerships across the state,” Fishback said. “They're going to go out, and they're going to be our voices. So, students are going to hear from their peers about how dangerous fentanyl really is.”

Fishback says the assemblies at schools in the Jacksonville area are expected to start this Spring.

“The great thing about the assembly is it's not just about connecting with students. It's also about having our teachers and our admin there as well,” Fishback said. “And then because the school is agreeing to have NEO, we are going to send home an information packet, a website with a short video recap in five different languages, so parents have these resources and can be on the lookout for this poison.”

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