The Army Substance Abuse Program at White Sands Missile Range brought experts from the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration to share their One Pill Can Kill presentation at the Post Theatre on February 8, 2024. The objective of the presentation was to educate the WSMR community about the dangers of fentanyl and fake drugs, which are increasingly being mistaken for prescription drugs.
Michelle Rincon, DEA Community Outreach Specialist for the El Paso Division, presented. She explained that the potency of fentanyl came about to help people with severe medical cases, such as patients with cancer. However, the market for counterfeit pills is becoming lethal due to the drug's potency as more counterfeit pills are being laced with fentanyl for its fast efficacy on its users.
"Medical grade fentanyl is what doctors use in micrograms. Cartels are using it in milligrams, and that is a huge difference as far as dosage goes," said Rincon.
During the presentation, Rincon stressed that two milligrams of fentanyl is the fatal dose. She displayed a photo that shows how two milligrams of the drug can fit on the lead of a sharpened pencil. In addition to that photo, Rincon also showed photos of fake pills alongside real legitimate pills from a pharmacy, and they were indistinguishable.
According to the data and the DEA's findings over the past few years, the lethality of seized pills continues to get more deadly.
"This is a new stat: in seven out of ten pills the DEA tested, we have been finding a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl," said Rincon. "That means more than half the pills we seize are deadly."
Creating awareness of the lethality of counterfeit drugs is one reason the DEA began the One Pill Can Kill campaign in 2021. Another is to inform parents, teachers, young adults, vulnerable groups, teens and kids about the dangers of where they are obtaining pills. Kids are turning to social media and e-commerce to purchase pills they deem safe to experiment with, such as Xanax or Adderall, only to find that they are laced with fentanyl. This is leading to many preventable deaths and awareness is one way to combat this issue.
"The more awareness you can bring to this message, the better because, the more people know, the more our teens learn about the danger of fake pills and the dangers of social media," said Rincon, as she addressed the WSMR crowd. "Passing this message along can possibly save lives."
For more information on the One Pill Can Kill please visit: https://www.dea.gov/onepill
For more information on the WSMR Army Substance Abuse Program visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/White-Sands-Missile-Range-ASAPSuicide-Prevention-Program-102339631593127