What happened to Alex?
The day before Alex passed, he came to his mother, Amy, and I to get help. It was a Sunday night as summer had begun and we were focused on many other things, but when he explained that he had been taking Oxicontin for 10 days, we stopped everything and listened.
Alexander wanted to get clean and seek out an in-patient treatment facility. He had stayed there previously, but had not been willing to stop smoking cannabis. Still, he had learned recovery and had been very honest with us until the last couple weeks. He saw the damage happening and knew what was in store. He was ready to do the uncomfortable work.
During the conversation, he broke down several times and described himself going through depression, anxiety, and all the stress that a fourteen year old feels in life. He told us about a two kids he knew who died from Xanax and alcohol overdose recently. He had thought they had taken too many pills and lost count.
The next day was a good day. He woke up positive and asked about the treatment center. He wanted to go at the end of the week and expressed his gladness for this change. He talked about his future. We saw him talking and smiling the whole time he was home. He still went out with his friends, but according to them, he was ready to change.
About 9:00pm that night, he got home from being with friends, ran upstairs and that was the last we saw him alive.
He got to his room and stayed there till the next morning. Amy and I texted him, his friends texted him, but apparently he never got a chance to read them. As annoying parents who love him so much, we always bugged Alex before we went to sleep. Not that night. I didn’t even try to go in to his room because I’d been trying to give the young man more space recently.
Fentanyl killed Alex almost immediately
Alexander wasn’t trying to kill himself and he said something we missed: He had said that he thought the pills he’d been taking “were real.” He knew that there was something wrong with the illegal pill market. He apparently thought he was being careful. That was his last mistake.
Turns out that he had been taking Fentanyl. He thought he was taking Oxicontin when in fact they were counterfeit pills. The DEA visited and further research confirmed the matter.
We learned that Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is far cheaper to procure than the drugs that it is now masquerading as. Because legitimate pharmaceuticals like oxycodone are harder to get and are thereby more expensive, there is now a booming counterfeit pill industry.
Fentanyl is being shipped to the US from China or via Mexico. Regardless, of how it gets here, there is a cottage industry now where someone with the right mold, press, powders, and Fentanyl can produce fake pills that will literally kill children and adults in one swallow.