CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- The Chula Vista Police Department is working to crack down on drug dealers targeting young people in the community.
Chula Vista Police said two teenagers recently overdosed on fentanyl in which one of them died. Unfortunately, they’re the latest examples of the ongoing fentanyl epidemic in San Diego County.
ABC 10News spoke with Nancy Knott, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in alcohol and drug addiction, about the growing drug abuse among teens.
“The innocence of teenagers is really exploited here,” Knott said. “It’s mixed into other drugs because it’s cheaper, and so when drug dealers are adding fentanyl, it gives it a lot more powerful effect without the cost to make it.”
Chula Vista Police said a 16-year-old overdosed on fentanyl on Aug. 19. Medics had to administer Narcan multiple times. Fortunately, the teen survived.
Officers said the teen was with friends who all knew the drug contained fentanyl.
The next day, a 17-year-old that was part of the same friend group overdosed. Medic tried to resuscitate them, but efforts were unsuccessful.
“That is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual in San Diego County right now,” Knott said.
Knott said the pandemic has only made the issue worse. San Diego County officials say fentanyl overdose deaths had tripled from 151 in 2019 to 461 in 2020.
This year, county officials predict 700 people will die from a fentanyl overdose.
“We had prom, we had things we went to, and football games, and all of that got wiped out over the last year and a half. So yeah, COVID is a big player in this,” Knott said.
Knott said it’s essential for parents to pay attention to their children.
Since teens often hide their drug use from parents, here are some signs Knott said you should look for in your child: weight loss, mood changes, if your child begins to isolate themselves, and their grades begin to slip.
If you suspect something, say something.
“What I have seen over the years is I’ve seen a lot of kids get well," Knott said. "I’ve seen a lot of people get well when the problems addressed early on.”
The Chula Vista Police Department says they plan to push out a PSA on fentanyl in the coming weeks to help raise awareness of its harmful impact on the community.
CVPD is also asking anyone with information regarding the sale and distribution of fentanyl or illicit substances, in the above case especially, to contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or CVPD at 619-691-5151.