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These public meetings in Gainesville plan to address the fentanyl crisis
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J's Place is located on Lanier Park Drive. The center is named for Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr., who died of an overdose in 2012. - photo by Scott Rogers

J’s Place Executive Director Jordan Hussey said the goal for an upcoming set of forums on fentanyl is to get parents and students on the same page.

“I think there is probably a disconnect between what our kids in the school systems know and what the parents know,” Hussey said.

Two sessions of the forum called “The Fight Against Fentanyl” will be held Dec. 8 regarding the synthetic opioid drug roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

A student session will run from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Gainesville High School student activity center, and the community session is set for 6-8 p.m. at The Hub at Gainesville High School.

Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish is slated to speak at both sessions.

Statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Drug Surveillance Unit show there were four adolescent deaths statewide from fentanyl in 2019, jumping to 36 deaths in 2021.

“An increasing number of fatal overdoses among adolescents are attributed to fentanyl, yet this age group lacks critical information about the risks and prevalence of this substance,” according to the DPH report.

A 2021 survey cited in the report of Americans aged 13-24 showed 27% of teenagers were aware fentanyl could be found in counterfeit pills.

J’s Place is named for Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr., a 21-year-old man who died in 2012 from an opioid overdose.

Hussey said organizers are planning to do an anonymous survey with the students and then reveal the results to the parents to show what their children may or may not know.

“What we have seen is that fentanyl is mixed in everything, from marijuana to methamphetamine to cocaine,” Hussey said.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal “depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage.”

“DEA analysis has found counterfeit pills ranging from .02 to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl per tablet,” according to the DEA.

The DEA said 42% of pills tested for fentanyl hit the 2-milligram threshold for lethality.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old Flowery Branch man was charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly giving his co-worker a fatal dose in July.

The 17-year-old coworker died July 13.

At J’s Place, Hussey said she has seen people who are overdosing using other substances, unaware that their drug of choice could be laced with fentanyl.

Hussey said she is trying to make sure the center’s partners have access to naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal agent often seen as Narcan.

The Fight Against Fentanyl

What: Partnership for a Drug Free Hall forum regarding fentanyl

When: Student session is 9:30-11 a.m. Dec. 8

Community session is 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Student session is at Gainesville High School’s Student Activity Center

Community session is at The Hub at Gainesville High School, 830 Century Place, Gainesville

Cost: Free and open to the public