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National Recovery Month with a mom who lost her son to Fentanyl

Michelle Leopold now leads seminars on how to prevent Fentanyl overdoses

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National Recovery Month, as in recovery from drug abuse, is coming to a close. But of course, the problem does not go away. About one American dies of a drug overdose every five minutes, many to Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. Claire Fogarty spoke with a mom whose son died from being poisoned unwittingly by Fentanyl.

Michelle Leopold lives in Marin County near San Francisco. She was a PTA Mom. She co-led an anti-gun violence group, and she raised two sons. The older one was named Trevor.

Michelle Leopold: “His drug of choice was cannabis, but he dabbled in pharmaceuticals, and sadly, on November 17th, 2019, he purchased a blue 30. And, it was not a blue 30. It was fentanyl, and most likely killed him in about twenty minutes in his sleep.”

As it kills thousands... no...tens of thousands of Americans every year. And the numbers are getting worse.

Michelle Leopold: “And, when Trevor died, then I knew--I mean I literally--that day, that minute that we found out, we said, ‘We can’t be quiet about this.’”

She says Fentanyl is a killer like no other, and about two out of five pills tested for fentanyl contain a lethal dose, so every pill is a gamble.

Michelle Leopold: “I compare it to Russian Roulette. But you have a better chance of living. if you play Russian Roulette.”

And if you do take that gamble with pills and ingest one laced with Fentanyl, one way to increase your chance of survival is to have someone there with Narcan. That’s a nasal spray to treat overdoses and save lives. Since the tragic death of her son, Michelle Leopold has distributed over 100 boxes of Narcan in her community. She leads seminars on how to use it. She’s dedicated to a campaign called “One Pill Can Kill,” trying to do all she can to prevent any more deaths like Trevor’s.

Michelle Leopold: “I’ve really focused on being Trevor’s voice and using my lived experiences and Trevor’s life to help tell a story and make change.”

But every day is hard, she says, yesterday was National Son’s Day. The reminders of what she’s missing, what the drug took away from her, are even worse on what should be a happy holiday when people are posting all over social media how much they love their kids.

Michelle Leopold: “Yeah, I love my kids, I do, too. I just have one in heaven.”

For Annenberg Media, I’m Claire Fogarty.