Drug resistance and education group fights the spread of fentanyl in Kentucky

May 9 is National Fentanyl Awareness Day.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 3:59 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - May 9 is National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

Police and health professionals say the scary thing is a lot of people who take illegal and illicit drugs don’t even know fentanyl is in them.

Operation UNITE tackles drug education, enforcement and prevention all over southern and southeastern Kentucky. They have seen the damage caused by illegal drugs firsthand and say fentanyl is killing a lot of young people 18 to 45. And many times young people don’t even know they are using it.

“And so on Fentanyl Awareness Day, we need to recommit we are going to make people more aware. This is the most dangerous time in history for using illicit drugs,” said Operation UNITE President & CEO Nancy Hale.

People taking prescription drugs and getting them online could also be getting something unexpected and deadly. Operation UNITE officials say fentanyl is often in substances such as OxyContin or Percocet ordered online. It takes very little to kill a person.

“Because that is what is killing. The cartels are making fake prescription pills,” said Hale. “What we call pressed pills.”

Police and CDC figures show that teenage overdoses tripled in the past two years, but more than 70% said they had not heard of prescription pills made of fentanyl.

Operation UNITE officials say fentanyl is being found in some vaping products that young people are finding ways to acquire.