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Arizona resource wants parents talking to kids about risks of fentanyl

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – KTAR’s Community Spotlight this month focuses on, a resource dedicated to educating and helping communities prevent substance abuse in youths, with a recent emphasis on deadly counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

Last year in Arizona, 63 teenagers died from overdosing on the counterfeit pills known as M30, Merilee Fowler, executive director of MATFORCE, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“A lot of times young people might think they’re taking Xanax or oxycodone or Percocet. They don’t realize the danger … that one pill can kill,” said Fowler, who is based in Yavapai County.

What makes the counterfeit pills so dangerous is that they often are mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

One of the more alarming discoveries Fowler and the group made was that young people are making deals for the pills through social media.

“We had cases where, through Snapchat or Instagram, in a bedroom that their parents think the child is safe and they’re in contact with a drug dealer and are getting a hold of these pills,” she said.

There is plenty parents can do to keep their children safe from harmful drugs, Fowler said.

“No. 1, we need to talk to our children about never taking a pill that’s not prescribed to them. … We need parents to be the parent and not just a friend. Monitor their texts and social media multiple times a week.”

Parents and other caregivers can learn how to start the conversation about fentanyl abuse at’s website.

Guidance is also available at the Arizona Opioid Assistance Referral line at 1-888-688-4222.

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