BEAVERTON, Ore. — Jon and Jennifer Epstein will tell anyone who will listen the dangers of the drug, fentanyl.
Only four months ago they lost their son, Cal, to fentanyl poisoning. It is believed the recent Sunset High School grad took what he thought was oxycodone, but the pill was actually fentanyl. He got it through Snapchat.
"The drug dealers have figured out a way to reach out to the kids and they're doing it again and again and again and the kids are seeing it," Jennifer Epstein said.
The Epsteins shared their story during a virtual community conversation hosted by the Beaverton School District. The district has lost several students to fentanyl poisoning in the last year-and-a-half.
Fentanyl is not just a problem in the Beaverton School District. It is a problem across the Portland metro area.
This month the Clackamas County Inter-Agency Task Force busted an 18-year-old for selling fentanyl pills on Snapchat. Since the start of 2021, more than 12,000 fentanyl pills have been taken off the streets of Clackamas County.
"Anyone who gets pills from anywhere other than a pharmacy should assume they're counterfeit and contain deadly amounts of fentanyl," said tri-county health officer Dr. Jennifer Vines.
Vines says the smallest amount of fentanyl, a man-made version of morphine, can be deadly. So far this year the Westside Inter-Agency Narcotics Team in Washington County has investigated 14 overdose deaths. Ten of those are linked to counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl.
"In the same timeframe in 2020 we investigated three," said Sgt. Danny DiPietro of the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "In 2019 in that same time frame we investigated only one."
This is a clear sign that the fentanyl problem is getting worse. Perhaps nobody knows that better than the Epsteins. They hope their story of the sudden loss of their son, Cal, will save lives.
"This is a new thing," said Jon Epstein. "It's dangerous. The controls out there do not exist."
For more information on the fentanyl problem and the virtual community conversation, you can visit the Beaverton School District website.