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SAN DIEGO – San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond and District Attorney Summer Stephan led a virtual forum Wednesday evening to put a spotlight on the grave dangers of fentanyl.

County leaders and medical professionals came together to host the educational meeting, focusing on how parents can talk to their kids about the drug.

“In the top ten leading causes of death in 2021 for people 18 to 45 years old, fentanyl is now leading by almost double by 40,000. It is staggering,” Stephan said.

Fentanyl overdoses also extend to the younger population, with San Diego County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Steve Campman pointing out the numbers have increased exponentially in the last two years for those under the age of 17.

This issue has become so prevalent, county supervisors declared the week of June 2 – 10 as “Talk to Your Kids About Fentanyl Week”.

“These are kids who are dying because they bought fake prescription drugs off of social media and mostly on their cell phone. Pills like Adderall, Xanax and Percocet. Unfortunately, these pills can be laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl,” Desmond said.

Experts like Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Gordon weighed in on what to look for on teens’ social media accounts or text messages including emojis that could be code for drugs.

Parents who have experienced losing a child to fentanyl, encouraged full transparency with teens about drugs, including that it only takes one pill to overdose.

Fentanyl overdoses have increased more than 2,300% since 2016 in San Diego County and officials believe that number will continue to grow, unless the community gains greater awareness and stronger policies are put in place.