NEW YORK - A group of activists and people who have lost family members to the deadly drug gathered in Times Square Monday for the second annual National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day.
Hosted by the non-profit group Facing Fentanyl, the event aims to spread awareness and try and change the way we talk about fentanyl.
According to the CDC, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It has become the leading cause of death of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, with one person dying from the drug every five minutes, 300 a day. 110,000 Americans were killed last year, yet the supply of fentanyl continues to flow.
Facing Fentanyl's founder, Andrea Thomas, spoke with Good Day New York about how fentanyl ended up taking the life of her daughter, Ashley Romero, in 2018.
"Ashley was 32 years old; she was a mother." Thomas said, "Ashley was given a half of one of these counterfeit pills that looked like a real prescription. When she used that for pain, it took her life instantly."
Frank Tarantino, the DEA New York's Special Agent in Charge also spoke at the event, "The DEA seized on a national level last year alone over 58 million fentanyl pills and over 13 thousand pounds of -- 388 million lethal doses. The DEA NY division seized over 2 million deadly fentanyl pills and over two thousand pounds of fentanyl powder - that's the equivalent of over 72 million potential lethal doses taken off of these city streets right here."
Facing Fentanyl says this is not the old war on drugs where people can be told just to not use, saying what works here is education and unity.
The group also says a key here is to change the way we talk about fentanyl and to stop using the term 'overdose,' which suggests there is a safe dose when there is not. They say the accurate word is 'poisoning,' which they say is what happens to any individual who consumes any amount of fentanyl.