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'One pill that ended their lives': Austin moms on a mission to raise awareness on the dangers of fentanyl

Dozens of families walked to honor the lives lost to fentanyl and to raise awareness about the drug.

AUSTIN, Texas — A report from the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office found drug overdoses are the No. 1 cause of accidental death in our community. 

To shed some light on this issue, three Austin mothers organized a walk on Sunday to educate the public and raise awareness of the rising number of fentanyl overdose deaths.

"Our goal is to save one life," said Carilu Bell, one of the organizers who also lost her son to fentanyl. 

Bell said her son died back in October. He was 44 years old. 

"My heart breaks even more for the mothers that are losing their teenagers and their young children that really haven't had a chance to live life," she said.

Fentanyl is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive and more dangerous, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Stephanie Turner, who also lost her 19-year-old son, said fentanyl overdose is the No. 1 cause of death for 18 to 45-year-olds. 

"It's being added to all drugs," she said. "I think it's really important that people understand the dangers of it."


Many times people don't know the drugs they're buying are laced with fentanyl, and the CDC said it is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with these opioids unless tested with fentanyl test strips.  

"The mass production of it is unreal," said Becky Stewart, who also lost her son to this opioid. "It's super, super cheap and highly addictive. And our sons' deaths were nothing more than them doing business for these dealers."

Earlier this year, Travis County and the City of Austin declared fentanyl a public health crisis, putting more resources toward stopping overdose deaths. Part of that includes expanding access to harm reduction supplies and Narcan, the nasal spray that can reverse symptoms of a possible overdose. 

In an effort to reduce overdose deaths, the NICE Project set up the City's first Narcan vending machine. The Narcan is free and the vending machine can be found at Sunrise Navigation Center near Ben White Boulevard and Menchaca Road.

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