WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Monday is National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 107,000 people died in 2022 from a drug overdose.
At a round table led by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., area officials talked about the importance of educating kids and others about the dangers and deadliness of the drug.
All schools in USD 259 have Narcan in case of an overdose.
One family who lost their son to fentanyl shared the importance of talking with your kids.
Corey Wontorski died Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at 24 years old.
“We think that whatever he was trying to get … he was trying to sleep. We don’t believe he was trying to get high that night because he had a super day planned the next day,” said Tammy Arnott, Corey’s mother. “We believe his dealer told him that it wouldn’t hurt him if he took it a certain way like he’s been telling people that you can smoke it or you can snort it and you won’t die, which is obviously a lie.”
Corey’s stepmom, Stacy Wontorski, was the one who found him.
“It was probably the worst moment of my life. I was picking him up to come over to watch the Packers game that day. Walked in and found him. It was about noon that day, and he had been gone since, what, 2:30 in the morning,” said Stacy. “I mean, it was … something I mean, I can’t forget. Nobody should have to go through that and picture that.”
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 42% of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg of fentanyl, which is considered a potentially lethal dose.
“The message of ‘One Pill Can Kill’ is very, very true. You don’t know what you’re getting a lot of times,” said Arnott. “So many of these moms have kids who were either teenagers that were experimenting or kids looking to relieve anxiety, or kids looking to sleep. One pill truly can kill you.”
Arnott states that they didn’t see Corey struggling until he was 18-19 years old.
“It can happen at any house. We thought that it was just normal, teenage wanting to sleep in, and kinda being a little bit grouchy, and everything. And we talked to our kids about drugs. They talked to us all the time. They told us what their friends were doing. It went right under our noses for so very long,” said Arnott.
Talking to children is important, not only for your child but for your child’s friends.
“I’ve met a lot of moms who don’t really wanna talk about it because it’s stigma, but I think that that stigma is killing our kids because they can’t talk to an adult they trust, so they get their information from other kids, and those kids don’t always have the mental resources to give them the best information,” said Arnott.
Arnott believes monitoring children’s social media is also important, but it can be difficult.
“As soon as you figure out what they’re saying, they change it. If you know that an emoji means a drug, well, next week it’s not going to anymore,” said Arnott. “The kids adapt to it so they can keep doing what they’re doing.”
Another important aspect of a child’s life: technology.
“I think that we probably need to start monitoring what our kids are doing with their phones, monitoring when they get phones, and making them put it away,” said Arnott.