PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland Public Schools announced they will carry Narcan, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, on its high school campuses.
On Tuesday night, PPS and Multnomah County held a virtual information session for parents and teenagers to talk about addiction issues and the dangers of fentanyl.
A young woman, Emily, spoke during the virtual event before educators, healthcare professionals, moms, dads, and other caregivers.
“Kids are scared and embarrassed of mental health and embarrassed to ask for that help,” Emily said.
Emily said she reached for illegal drugs when anxiety and depression became too much.
“Drugs were the fix for me for a bit until they weren’t,” Emily explained.
Emily is a student at Harmony Academy, a school that helps students recovering from substance use disorders.
“Isolation and extreme punishments and harsh language and attitudes towards addiction is the opposite of what we need,” Emily noted.
18-year-old Nora, who also spoke during the event, said she overdosed on fentanyl a year ago.
“I had no idea what I’d done was fentanyl until I woke up in the hospital 36 hours later,” Nora said.
Law enforcement say it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between real and counterfeit pills and say nearly all pills on the street are made with fentanyl.
In 2017, Brenda Martinek, with PPS student support services, lost her son to a fentanyl overdose.
“Taylor was not aware of what he was taking. Taylor thought he was taking Oxy. They were pressed and looked exactly like Oxy. And he took a pill, and it was almost a hundred percent fentanyl and he died immediately,” Martinek said.
She works to get students with mental health and substance abuse issues the support they need and hopes there will be more conversations like the one on Tuesday night.
“I’m extremely concerned about this issue. I don’t want any other parents to have to bury their babies,” Martinek said.
Something the students and others brought up is that when it comes to prevention and treatment one size does not fit all. When it comes to Narcan in schools, they do not believe it is a preventative tool but say it can and will potentially save lives.