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Health officials urge parents to talk to kids about the dangers of drugs on Overdose Awareness Day

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- Overdose deaths across Colorado continue to surge, a large part of that due to fentanyl. In 2021, 1,881 Coloradans died from a drug overdose.

In April, the El Paso County Coroner's Office released data showing 227 people died from an overdose last year. Of those deaths, nearly 45% were from fentanyl.

Wednesday is International Overdose Awareness Day, it's an annual campaign aimed at ending overdoses and remembering those who have died. On a day like today, health officials are urging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers.

Officials at Gallus Medical Detox Center in Denver say the rate of overdose deaths from fentanyl is unlike anything they've ever seen, and they know it's starting to get into the hands of kids.

In the last year, three high school students died from a fentanyl overdose in Colorado Springs.

Officials say it's important to monitor your kid's social media accounts and pay attention to the emojis they're using. Officials believe emojis are used as "drug codes."

When it comes to talking to your kids, Steve Carleton, Gallus Medical Detox Center's executive clinical director, says it shouldn't come from a reactive place.

"Experimenting with drugs is literally deadly now and kids need to understand that. I think the more you can talk about current events when a celebrity of some type has an overdose, tv shows, the hit show Euphoria depicted someone addicted to fentanyl, anytime you can use those things happening in pop culture or in the news that’s a good opportunity," said Carleton.

For more information on International Overdose Awareness Day and resources, click here.

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Jessica Gruenling


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