Assembly Addresses Problem of Accidental Death from Fentanyl

Why are we just now hearing about Fentanyl?


Bill Kaiser

Students approach Amy Neville in the gym after one of three assemblies conducted to warn about the dangers of fentanyl. Neville’s son, Alexander, died in 2020 of fentanyl poisoning. Fentanyl deaths have increased dramatically since 2013 when it accounted for 3% of drug deaths. Now it represents more than 50%.

Lexi Odekirk, Staff Writer

It was the third time Amy Neville gave the same presentation to a gym full of high school students in one day — and she was going to give it again in only a few hours to their parents.

The issue of fentanyl poisoning is so important to Neville she’s willing to repeat the same message over and over again, 288 times to be exact. Each one was given in hope of saving the lives of youth and people who don’t know the dangers of fentanyl.

She would know because she lost her son, Alexander, to accidental fentanyl poisoning in 2020. Following his death, she created the Alexander Neville Foundation to honor her son and share the dangers of fentanyl, the number one drug related killer of 18-45 year olds.

Fentanyl deaths have risen dramatically since 2013 when they accounted for 3% of drug deaths. Now they account for over 50%.

“Since losing Alexander, I have dedicated my life to educating and spreading awareness of the dangers that killed him,” Neville said on the ANF website.

SJHHS partnered with our PTSA to bring this event to all students in three separate assemblies as well as an evening presentation for parents.

“We cannot lose any of our students to this danger and they are best protected when our families and students are informed so that they can make safe decisions,” said principal Manoj Mahindrakar in an all staff email made available to The Express.

We set out to learn everything we could about it (fentanyl) so we could educate others so that they do not have to go through what we are going through

— Amy Neville

“Every time you try something, you are playing with your life, it is pill roulette,” said Amy Neville in the mini-movie “Dead on Arrival,” produced by Dominic Tierno.

Fentanyl can have extreme effects on a person, dizziness, nausea and shutting down vital organs like the lungs. The drug is 80 times as potent as morphine and is up to 100 times as deadly as heroin.

Minor exposure can be lethal – with just one touch potentially resulting in a trip to the emergency room. Fentanyl attacks its victims lungs, changing their heart’s beating patterns, and stiffening up muscles. Death can occur in a matter of minutes.

“The presentation was very emotional because it made you realize that it could happen to you since it happened to students from nearby schools,” said senior Ava Asil.

Over the past 2 years, since the death of her son, Neville has given these presentations to students across the USA.

“If we had known about fentanyl we would have done some things differently on Alexander’s last day while we were waiting for the treatment center’s recommendation and I really believe it would have resulted in Alex still being here with us,” said Neville.

According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) rose 55.6 percent and appear to be the primary driver of the increase in total drug overdose deaths.  In 2014, 28,000 people died from Fentanyl poisoning, but so far this year- 56,516 people have died. 

Many drug traffickers often mix the drugs they are selling with Fentanyl because of its extremely addicting qualities that make people want to buy more. It also happens to cost significantly less to lace other illicit drugs with it. Fentanyl is almost impossible to detect, especially with it being tasteless, Odorless, and colorless.

As little as two milligrams of Fentanyl can lead to death. In pills laced with fentanyl that amount is usually doubled. About half of illegally sold drugs tested positive for Fentanyl. 

2.3 million fentanyl pills were seized in 2021, equaling 726 pounds, according to Tierno’s film. Considering that about 2 pounds of fentanyl can kill 500,000 people, this amount would kill 181.5 million people.

According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency unless a drug is prescribed by a licensed medical professional and dispensed by a legitimate pharmacy, there’s no way to know the amount of fentanyl in an individual pill or how much may have been added to another drug.

To learn more, contact Amy Neville on the Alexander Neville Foundation website’s contact section, to send an email to reach out about drug abuse help, further questions, or any comments. The ANF website also accepts donations to further its work.