FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Elaine Hudson lost her son Frankie to a fentanyl overdose in 2020.
“When I opened his door, it changed my life forever. I go to bed thinking about it and I wake up thinking about it. It does not get easier, you just learn to live with it,” she said.
Since then, she’s made it her mission to raise awareness about fentanyl and its dire effects so other parents don’t have to experience the same loss.
Now, the Drug Enforcement Administration has declared May 10 National Fentanyl Awareness Day, a powerful way to show how big of an issue the drug has become in the U.S.
“That’s why we call it the silent killer: it is very difficult to detect, it is very easy to transport and a very small amount can kill you,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. between November 2020 and November 2021. 66% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Smittcamp said she’s watched the number of fentanyl overdoses increase in Fresno year after year but feels helpless under current state laws. She says she is trying to find a way to prosecute sellers for murder.
“People that have repeated this behavior of selling to people knowing that it’s a lethal drug, knowing that it’s a lethal overdose, knowing that people can die…we’re going to start prosecuting them under a theory of murder by poison,” she said.
For now, both she and Elaine Hudson will work to raise awareness. Hudson said she hopes kids who hear her story will think twice about using drugs that may contain fentanyl.
“I want these kids to know what a parent goes through when a child dies. They might say, ‘hey, I don’t want my parent to have to go through that…’ because it’s the most unbearable pain I’ve ever had to deal with,” Hudson said.
Fentanyl is very difficult to recognize and is often mixed with other drugs to make them more addictive. Some states are trying to legalize fentanyl testing strips to prevent drug users from making a potentially fatal mistake.