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Congressmen introduce the Protecting Kids from Fentanyl Act


Last updated 9/27/2022 at 1:01pm | View PDF

On Monday, Congressman Doug Lamborn and Congressman Joe Neguse introduced H.R. 8968, the Protecting Kids from Fentanyl Act.  The bipartisan legislation aims to provide schools with the flexibility needed to use COVID relief dollars allocated through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to purchase life-saving opioid antagonists such as naloxone and to provide related training and education to students and teachers.

“The fact that children are dying from fentanyl overdoses in schools around the country is absolutely unacceptable,” Lamborn said. “While overdoses due to fentanyl are becoming more common among our youth, research shows that the availability of naloxone, along with overdose education, is effective at saving lives. This legislation will ensure that schools have the prevention tools and education necessary to protect our most vulnerable population from the growing fentanyl epidemic. I am glad to sponsor this critical legislation and thank my colleagues in Congress, including fellow Coloradan Joe Neguse, for making this a bipartisan effort.”

Neguse pointed out that fentanyl-related overdoses have increased exponentially throughout Colorado, with the impact of this crisis devastating families across the state.

“The Protecting Kids from Fentanyl Act is a bipartisan solution that will empower our K-12 schools to tackle this emergency,” Neguse said. “Everyone – especially our children – deserve to live in a safe community, and this bill helps achieve that goal.” 

The Protecting Kids from Fentanyl Act will allow schools to use ESSER Funds to:

-Purchase naloxone or other opioid antagonists

-Provide training to school nurses, teachers, school administrators, and school resource officers on how to administer naloxone or other opioid antagonists

-Provide fentanyl awareness classes or materials to students.

Monument father Matt Riviere said losing two sons to fentanyl together on one night was the shock of his life.

“I did not know what fentanyl was until this terrible drug forever altered my life,” Riviere said. “My hope and desire are to save lives and help parents avoid the searing pain of losing their kids. Awareness and education are crucial to curbing fentanyl from getting into our schools. This groundbreaking legislation will give schools access to the funds they desperately need to purchase life-saving naloxone and provide needed training for educators.”

Riviere added, “I am thankful for Congressmen Lamborn and Neguse’s courageous leadership on this critical bill and to the many co-sponsors. Fentanyl does not discriminate; the crisis plaguing our country and destroying our youth is not a partisan issue. I am grateful for the continued partnership and collaboration of lawmakers, law enforcement officials, educators, and others, who are taking the threat of fentanyl seriously in our community. Together, united in purpose, we can save lives and stem the tide of this terrible crisis.”

Andrea Thomas, executive director of the Voices for Awareness Foundation, said illicit fentanyl was responsible for 77 percent of teen deaths in 2021.

“Prevention education in schools is essential to teach youth about counterfeit pills that are made to be disguised as legitimate medications,” Thomas said. “During the COVID pandemic, the nation was educated on health safety, but sadly, we did not anticipate the lingering effects of isolation and social media on youth during the lockdowns. The fentanyl crisis snuck into our communities, taking advantage of one public health crisis to begin another more lethal crisis. Schools are eager to continue educating students in these changing times but lack the resources to do it. In-person school drug prevention seems the natural next step to safeguarding kids. Utilizing unused covid funding for drug prevention in schools makes sense.”


• Teenagers are increasingly being exposed to fentanyl through counterfeit versions of medications like oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and benzodiazepines. Illicit fentanyl is powerful, easily made, and easy to transport, making it a popular and profitable narcotic for drug traffickers. Producing illicit fentanyl is not an exact science. Two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance, and past usage.

• Teens often end up buying fake pills that look like the commonly used prescription medications but are contaminated with fentanyl. It is estimated that at least one third of those illicitly manufactured pills are contaminated with fentanyl. A recent study found that fentanyl-related deaths among adolescents increased from 253 in 2019 to 680 in 2020. In 2021, 77% of all teen overdose deaths involved fentanyl. 

• Drug dealers are relying on social media to target teens and sell illicit and counterfeit prescription drugs. Over a two-month span in 2021, the DEA identified 76 cases that involved drug traffickers that used emojis and code words to advertise drugs on social media and other platforms used to sell items. 

Joining Lamborn and Neguse as original cosponsors are Representatives: Jim Banks, Glenn Grothman, Vicky Hartzler, Ronny Jackson, Brian Babin, Byron Donalds, Barry Moore, Darrell Issa, August Pfluger, Ralph Norman, and Gus Bilirakis.

Endorsing groups include: The School Superintendents Association, Facing Fentanyl, Blue Rising Together, Voices for Awareness Foundation, The Colorado Coalition for Families Affected by Fentanyl, VOID (Victims of Illicit Drugs), Matthews Voice, and The Alexander Neville Foundation. 


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