The Mountain Lion Messenger

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The Mountain Lion Messenger

The Mountain Lion Messenger

One Pill Can Kill

Student leaders prepare for the summit ready to take information learned back to their peers.

The 2023 Youth Opioid Summit on September 19 held at the Venetian Theatre educated over 700 CCSD students about the ongoing opioid epidemic affecting their generation. Sierra Vista’s Assistant Principal over activities, Angel Toner, states, “The more awareness we can bring to students or people the better outcome for everybody.” While one wrong pill can claim the life of anyone, the host of the summit, the DEA, is committed to stopping these preventable deaths by promoting education and awareness. 

A speaker at the summit, Kristi Neilson, an Intelligence Analyst, reports that in 2022, approximately 107,000 individuals lost their lives due to drug overdoses, the majority attributed to fentanyl. Studies show that six out of ten illicit pills are laced with a deadly amount of fentanyl. Putting that into perspective; that is around 300 people dead per day, which Neilson correlates to a plane crash every day for an entire year.

Becky Savage, a mother of four and a dedicated nurse opens up about her experience with fentanyl, specifically concerning her two oldest sons, Nick and Jack. Savages’ boys were phenomenal students, graduating with honors, and captains of hockey teams. Nick was in his freshman year of college studying microbiology. Jack was in his senior year of high school. Savage vividly recalls the morning when her life fell apart. She was in Jack’s room, gathering laundry and urging him to start his day, but there was no response. Jack was lifeless, and little did she know, a first responder would discover Nick to be dead in the basement moments later. One party, one pill, one bad decision, and two lives taken. Becky Savage mentions, “Let’s focus on making those positive choices and encourage others to do the same.” 

Christine Perkins shared the life of her son, Giovanni, who was born and raised in Las Vegas attending Desert Oasis High School. Affectionately known as “Gio” by those close to him. Giovanni sadly passed away at the early age of seventeen due to an accidental fentanyl overdose. Giovanni bought drugs from a dealer on social media and unknowingly, he took a deadly pill laced with fentanyl. Giovanni did not wake up for his senior sunrise the following day. 

Therapist, Kriya Lendzion, shares the four C’s of addiction. Consequences, loss of Control, the Center of one’s life, and Coping. Lendzion mentions that addiction does not feel bad until the consequences start rolling in and self-control starts to slip. Those who struggle with addiction struggle to set boundaries. Slowly the addiction becomes the center of one’s life and soon it is the only way to cope with internal battles. 

Micah York then tells his survival story after his unfortunate encounter with fentanyl. York shares how he was an addict, who thought he was taking Xanax but it was a false pill laced with fentanyl that almost took his life. After his near-death experience, he went to rehab, and now he is nearly two years sober. York strives to raise awareness with the message “One Pill Can Kill,” providing a clear picture to students that they do not control the addiction, the addiction controls them. 

Representing Vive18, an organization that strives to encourage and help students have fun without drugs and alcohol, co-founder Jake White emphasizes skillsets vs. shortcuts. Emphasizing coping skills, goal setting, resilience, boundaries, and decision-making skills.

Anyone with a phone can access these life-threatening drugs. Most illicit drugs are now sold on social media, and it is important to remember to never take drugs unless prescribed by a doctor and accessed by a pharmacist. People are dying. Toner mentions, “Everybody knows somebody who has been impacted by drugs and has lost their life to it, or has spiraled to go down the wrong path…” Children as young as ten months old have died due to fentanyl overdose. Drugs do not care who people are, they unforgivingly take lives, and no one is immune. Over 5,000 people die from poisoning a month. Do not become a statistic. Do not become 5,001. 


On September 19, the DEA hosted the 2023 Youth Opioid Summit at the Venetian Theater, where over 700 CCSD students attended.


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