New awareness campaign hopes to educate teens about dangers of fentanyl

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — District attorneys across Tennessee are hoping to better educate the public about the dangerous effects of fentanyl through a new awareness campaign called “Fentanyl: The Deadliest High.”

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference started the effort more than a month ago as the number of deadly overdoses continues to rise. TNDAGC said while the use of fentanyl has gone up, awareness of the highly potent synthetic drug has not. The district attorneys had focus groups with middle and high school students to determine how much they knew about the fentanyl.

“In our research, we discovered a lack of education around the dangers and prevalence of fentanyl and opioids in general,” said Guy Jones, executive director of TNDAGC. “Our youth are our future. It is with that in mind that we work to inform them on the realities of addiction and overdose. We want this effort to be the start of the end of fentanyl and deadly drug abuse in Tennessee, and we must work together to make this goal a reality.”

TNDAGC hopes to reach students across the state through social media, especially since not everyone can attend in-person classes because of the pandemic.

“People don’t really realize how dangerous fentanyl actually is and what a threat it is to the public health of everyone,” Sumner County DA Ray Whitley told NewsChannel 5.

Whitley said he receives at least two calls of a deadly overdose every week in his county. His office is taking a strong stance against people who provide any drugs that lead to a person’s death. In many cases, people who died may have not realized the drug was laced with fentanyl, which a dose of two milligrams is considered lethal.

Whitley is pursuing second-degree murder charges in nine different pending cases in Sumner County. At least three other defendants have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder or reckless homicide.

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