By ERIN SEITZLER, Four Points News
Market research states that 15% of high school students have taken prescription pills that were not prescribed to them. It also states that 40% of pills seized this year have had a lethal dose of fentanyl. These shocking statistics were a few of many points given at a fentanyl presentation earlier this year to help inform and educate the local community.
Held at Four Points Middle School on February 16, Becky Schulze Stewart gave this presentation on the dangers of fentanyl that is showing up in student and young adult culture. President of the Vandergrift PTA, Kelli Merchant helped arrange the presentation that Stewart shared with FPMS and Vandegrift PTA members.
Stewart is trying to prevent others from her experience – something no mother wants to endure.
Stewart’s sons, Hayden and Cameron, grew up around the Cedar Park area, both going to Hill Country Christian School of Austin for most of their education. Cameron decided to transfer to Cedar Park HS for his senior year. His mom described Cameron as “a happy-go-lucky kid who was always joking, laughing and pulling pranks just to get a rise out of others.”
But his mom said, behind the facade of that funny, happy kid, was someone who struggled with real life issues. He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, OCD and was also dealing with everyday stressors thrown his way, Stewart shared.
In hopes to help cope, he purchased a singular pill using the app SnapChat as his communication, “That one pill contained a lethal dose of fentanyl… forever changing our family’s lives,” Stewart said. Cameron was a victim of fentanyl poisoning in 2021.
Since this loss, Stewart has been sharing about her experience along with educating students and parents of this nationwide fentanyl issue. “It is my hope that people start paying attention so that no other family has to experience the nightmare that my family has.” These presentations have consisted of her story, videos, pictures, and statistics.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, with the leading cause of accidental deaths for people ages 18-45. It is very powerful and only takes the smallest amount to be lethal. Fentanyl is synthetically produced in mass quantities, can be purchased for a reduced price due to the unlimited amount, is 100x more powerful than morphine, and is very effective and addictive.
“Most of these kids/adults aren’t seeking out fentanyl” and “fentanyl does not discriminate. It doesn’t care what socioeconomic status you come from,” Stewart added.
The presentation was an eye opener.
“There were many comments regarding that they were unaware of how pressing a problem this is for our kids,” said FPMS Principal Steve Crawford. “This can happen to any kid anytime. We can not ignore the problem. Just because we do not see it in our face does not mean it is not happening in our own community.”
This pressing problem is right under this community’s nose. With proper education, lives can be saved and LISD may be implementing this presentation into its system. “ I am pleased that LISD is considering this education for our older kids. Although the details have not been set, they are listening. After all, our kids are our most valuable thing. We must protect them through proper education,” Crawford said.
Since 2020, youth drug deaths are now growing faster than all other causes. Stewart and others want that to end. Report anonymously through Crime Stoppers at Crime-Stoppers.org or any local law enforcement agency, tell a trusted adult, or send an email to AChangeForCam@gmail.com.
Stewart’s organization, A Change for Cam’s slogan states “It only takes one… one pill, one line, one toke, one time!” She said,
“Never say ‘Not my child!’ It can happen to you,” she encourages people to arm themselves with information and research and know what your children are faced with. “My group of grieving moms is growing way too quickly. Please be a part of the solution! It’s not a question of if you know someone who has lost their life to fentanyl, it’s when.”