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Seventeen-year-old Placer County, Calif., student Zach Didier’s parents found him slumped over his desk in 2020, dead from a then-unknown cause.
With California’s uptick in fentanyl poisonings and deaths, coroner officials reportedly suggested it could be the cause of Zach’s sudden death.
Laura Didier, Zach’s mother, told “The Story” on Fox News on Monday that she initially had no idea how such a powerful opiate found its way into her home.
“This was nothing we were prepared for. Zach was a 17-year-old high school senior. He had no history with abusing drugs or alcohol,” she said. “So it was a complete shock to us when he was found at his desk and passed away two days after Christmas of 2020.”
It was later discovered Zach obtained what he believed to be an oxycodone pill via Snapchat and ingested it after the rest of his family went to sleep.
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“When the authorities came, there were no drugs in his room. There was no injury to his body. So it was a real mystery why he would be dead,” Laura Didier said. “But tragically, in our county there was a large uptick in fentanyl deaths. So the coroner’s office was the first one to suggest it was fentanyl.”
Fentanyl is an opiate 100 times stronger than morphine. First synthesized in 1960 by Dr. Paul Janssen, the Belgian namesake of the popular vaccine manufacturer, as a component of intravenous analgesics for severe chronic pain – it later transitioned into an illegal recreational drug.
NYU-Langone physician of internal medicine Dr. Marc Siegel described to Fox News the dual problem of growing transnational smuggling cartels in Mexico, and the fact in cases like Didier’s, people “think they’re getting one thing and getting something else” – in that fentanyl is often taken unassumingly.
The high potency of pure fentanyl will stop a human being from breathing, he said, adding that administering naloxone hydrochloride may help, but that there is not enough of the antidote – commonly called Narcan – around.
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“So I tell parents out there to be on the lookout for what your teens are doing with social media, to have a conversation with them about it, to talk to them about it, look for changes in behavior, also sudden changes in behavior,” Siegel said.
“Are they becoming more isolated because of the pandemic? Is there more depression going on? More anxiety? The mental health crisis right now because of the pandemic, is directly tied into the substance abuse problem.”
Siegel added another potent opioid being trafficked from Mexico is Isotonitazene, or “Iso”, which is one-hundredfold stronger than fentanyl, and went on to criticize the open border policy of the current administration.
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Mrs. Didier later added that Zach was like many kids his age, happy but likely stressed over the recent COVID lockdowns and the pressures of senior year.
“But like every child … it wasn’t out of the norm for this extreme circumstance,” she said. “And all of his friends we spoke to afterward, they were like, Zach was happy. Zach was doing great. And just they’re being so blindsided by it as well.”
“It just showed me what an information gap there was, and I just really want to try to fill it.”