Local Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representative Amy Roderick says parents need to communicate with their children about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
“Parents should be very concerned they need to educate about the dangers of any kind of prescription drug. These drugs are dangerous and deadly,” she explained to NBC 7.
Mother Maria Chavez agrees. She’s already stressing the importance of communication with her grandson who’s in kindergarten.
“We have to start when they’re little,” she said. “We have to teach this at home.”
A 13-year-old Escondido middle school student was arrested last week for allegedly selling Xanax to fellow students, some as young as 11 years old.
Two children had to be rushed to the emergency room for treatment, while a third was taken to urgent care. All of the students have fully recovered.
Roderick said the situation could have been much worse.
“We are also finding fentanyl in pills that aren't even an opioid such as Xanax,” she explained. So when you’re out seeking pills on the street and you take a pill you don't know what you’re getting. You no longer know ‘oh this is a pharmaceutical drug’ because there are so many fraudulent prescription pills coming across the border every single day.”
The main problem is those pills are made to look like real pharmaceutical drugs
“Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin and this is not being made in a pharmaceutical setting,” she continued. “This is being made by some drug traffickers down in Mexico so they’re not concerned with overdose amount of fentanyl. They have no idea what that would even be.”
Roderick says there's a huge risk taking medicine not prescribed to you. For instance, Xanax is intended for when you have anxiety or depression. A person without those symptoms will react differently to the drug.
It all comes back to education and communication that starts at home.
“We don't have problems with our kids because we have good communication with her,” Francisco Alamaza said of her daughter. “She’s in 11th grade … Whatever happens, she tells us.”
The Escondido Unified School District is starting up a program at the beginning of the year for its 7th and 8th graders called Project Alert. They say the program motivates students to not use drugs, learn to recognize pressures to use, and helps them practice skills to stand up against peer pressure.