On Thursday, September 15th, a large crowd gathered to fill a lecture hall at Clovis North High School to discuss the problems faced with the drug Fentanyl and overdoses in general in the Central Valley.
The event, broadcast live on local television and on Fox26 News’ social media, consisted of a panel of Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County Sheriff-Elect John Zanoni, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino, and spokesperson for Fresno County Department of Public Health Dr. John Zweifler.
These members from Fresno County gathered at Clovis High School to address the effects of Fentanyl and drug overdoses in general, a problem that Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says is underfunded.
“Over 100,000 people die every year of accidental drug overdoses…but yet, we put all of our resources on murder right? Why not on drug overdoses, why not on education? That’s what we’re trying to do here tonight.”
Flindt Anderson, Founder and President of the non-profit group Parents & Addicts In Need (PAIN), and self-proclaimed recovering drug addict recognized, “[This problem] is not just set for our youth…Opioid use in general goes from twelve years old up to seventy-five and eighty years in age.”
“The one thing I do want to get across to parents today is that, most of the youth…they know what they’re taking, when they’re out on the street, when they’re buying it. They know they’re buying Fentanyl.”
Anderson then went on to explain that there are accidental overdoses, but stuck to his affirmation that most overdoses are coming from those who make the choice to ingest a specific drug.
“I’m a recovering drug addict, we are going to take that drug no matter what is in it, no matter how potent it is, because we don’t wanna get what we call ‘dope sick’, so we are going to continue to take that medication until either we get help at some point or until there’s the possibility of us dying because of an overdose.”
A parent of an overdose victim, Pamela Smith spoke of mental health and when a parent should make a choice to help with their child.
“Everybody goes through trauma in their life. And I think the young people, they’re very stressed out and they go through a lot of trauma. If they will not talk to you about it [parents] I think it’s imperative that you get them in for professional services, mental health. If we don’t deal with our mental health issues, we are going to turn to drugs and alcohol.”