When we lost Devin unexpectedly to fentanyl poisoning April 4, 2020, it was devastating. At the time we had no clue what illicit fentanyl was, because no one was talking about it. We had no idea how widespread this epidemic is; how teens & young adults were being targeted unknowingly on Snapchat by dealers selling fake pills and other illicit substances. What we knew was, this wasn't just an isolated incident. This issue was so much bigger than just Devin. 

We have dedicated ourselves to raising awareness and educating children, parents, caregivers, and communities. We have been committed to helping locate vital resources for those in need to get the care they deserve. We are fortunate to work beside fellow parent advocates, legislators, faith based organizations, law enforcement, health organizations, and recovery specialists when giving presentations in our schools and community. 

Welcome to our website, where we work to raise awareness about the grave dangers of illicit drugs & fentanyl. As an incredibly potent synthetic opioid, illicit fentanyl poses an unprecedented threat to public health, contributing to an alarming rise in overdoses & fentanyl poisoning fatalities worldwide. We are committed to providing crucial information, support, and resources to combat this crisis, advocating for education, prevention, and compassionate outreach to protect our communities from the devastating impact of illicit fentanyl. Together, we can make a difference and save lives.

Drugs in School with Noah Latzer

Release Date: 08/10/2023

Noah Latzer works as a recovery support specialist at the Minnesota Recovery Connection, working individually with clients, helping run groups with Virtual Addiction Care at Allina Health and running inclusive, weekly ALL recovery meetings – and he’ll tell you more about what that means later in this episode. 

I first heard Noah speak at an education event at Hastings High School – it was called One Pill Can Kill organized by United Way of Hastings. He was on a panel discussing the ways drugs get into schools and how we might prevent addiction and fentanyl overdose by educating kids about how it is being pressed into pills in lethal doses. Noah has a daunting story.  Drug dealers in school are humans with pain and fear that they’re trying to escape from. There’s a lot more going on in that persons life. I wonder what would happen if we approached these kinds of people with compassion and curiosity about their pain?

I work at a small hospital in a small town on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin – on a bluff where horses graze overlooking the Mississippi river. as an addiction assessor in an inpatient mental health unit, emergency department and medical units. I see a sample of the firing lines of addiction related circumstances that bring people into the hospital. It was interesting to have the opportunity from United Way to go out into the community and discover how these new potent drugs were harming the families of this town in the school system. I usually work with people after the drugs and alcohol have done their damage – and sometimes in the hospital it’s too late to treat their addiction – so it was a new perspective to think about the problem of addiction from a prevention standpoint. Looking over some old local news articles, I noticed that Hastings has had a long history of opioid overdoses – higher per capita than the surrounding areas – and the town has been trying to figure out what to do about it for decades. What could the solution be? What is really going on in our communities? Let’s take a broader look around at the data from the state as a whole:

Aaccording to the MN dept of health - Opioid-involved overdose deaths among Minnesotans increased 43% from 2020 to 2021, and the number of deaths has more than doubled since 2019. 

Nonfatal emergency department (ED) visits for opioid-involved overdose continued to increase from 2020 to 2021. This increase was driven by nonfatal overdoses involving opioids other than heroin, whereas nonfatal overdoses involving heroin decreased. 

Use and Misuse Among Youth 

Among Minnesota students surveyed, the percentage of 8th and 9th graders who reported inappropriate use of pain medications (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin) in the past 12 months has continued to increase. Inappropriate use among 11th graders remained steady from 2019 to 2022. 

In 2021 there was a bump in admissions to treatment for opioid use disorder.  

The number of patients who have completed their treatment at the time of their discharge has been decreasing. 

In 2021, seven out of ten patients had not completed their Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment at the time of discharge. 

 Understanding the central nervous system’s response to pain: A patient’s pain sensitivity increases with long-term opioid use; the central nervous system’s alarm system is no longer sending accurate signals. Part of recovery from long-term opioid use includes addressing the central nervous system’s response and teaching the body that life can be safe again. Health systems that are skilled in trauma-informed practices are beginning to explore holistic healing from long-term chronic pain and/or long-term opioid use. 

Looking at this problem from all angles, I want to explore if my initial opinion that total abstinence – preventing drug experimentation among young people through education and changing the social culture of inevitability – which is accepting the inevitable that all young people will go through a right of passage of exposing themselves to addictive substances for fun – is the only way to solve this problem. 

Can we do better? 

Can we take a look around at the bigger picture of what’s causing these fentanyl overdoses, and cultural drift towards ever more potent psychoactive substance addictions?  

What is going on in our families? In our daily life interactions? Our cultural routines of socializing and propelling ourselves towards joy by hijacking the natural pleasure system in the brain? Anything that changes the chemistry of the brain seems to make us feel less – not more. It mutes our authentic ability to feel the entire real experience, while diverting us to a dimmed down, distracted pathway through the experience. 


If you’d like to hear more about the world of #substance use disorder counseling, addiction recovery, prevention and treatment please subscribe to this podcast and share it with anyone you think would benefit from hearing it.   

I know what it’s like to be in the quicksand, the hell, the tolerance trap of addiction. I’ve depended on everything from a liter and a half of vodka per day to half a pill of a tiny dose of a benzodiazepine to get be through the day – and I feared for my life if I did not get this drug into my body every single day. I want to report from where I am today that it is so much better to be free – to think with the clarity of a natural mind free of chemicals - and to feel all the subtle pleasures of life fully. I challenge you to set yourself free.  We fall for a lot of addictive traps, both set by us and by nature – especially the caffeine sleep deprivation trap, which I’ll discuss in an episode coming soon. I believe we can be more ambitious as a species. Freedom is the best trip you’ll ever have. 

I am Justin the addiction guy, and I created this podcast. Music by Carly Thomas – check out carlythomas.com, Cover photography by Jennifer Mao Jones, Writing, Studio Sound mixing and editing by me. Thank you to the people who have encouraged me to create this, and inspired connections and community engagement, including Bridgette Noring of the Devin J. Noring Foundation, Mari Mellik and Jane Neumiller-Bustad… at United Way of Hastings and Helping Kids Succeed. Thank you for introducing me to my first guest and continuing to strive to make the community of Hastings, MN stronger through educational events about fentanyl overdose among young people. What is the solution? If you have any ideas on how we can do better as a society, please contact the podcast at our website, www.justinthomascollection.com/podcast.html

WCCO Investigates the Fentanyl Crisis - Jennifer Mayerle

A closer look at Minnesota's fentanyl crisis

Charting the meteoric rise in Minnesota's fentanyl deaths

The families left behind in Minnesota's fentanyl crisis

Family fights for wider availability of fentanyl test strips

Why Advocates Should Refrain From Using The Term "Fentapill" 

An op-ed written by Bridgette Norring

What is a ‘Fentapill’?

In discussing this confusion, I will use my son Devin’s death as an example.

A search of the ICD-10 and DSM-5 codes turns up no results for ‘Fentapill’. I checked a variety of online Pill Identifier sites, and found nothing. There’s no mention of a ‘Fentapill’ on the DEA website. Police catalogued no reference to the seizure of ‘Fentapills’ in their inventory of items discovered in Devin’s room. Devin’s autopsy report makes no reference of a ‘Fentapill’. His toxicology doesn’t cite a ‘Fentapill’ in the substances detected. His death certificate reads “Cause of death – acute fentanyl toxicity”; nowhere does it say he died from a toxic ‘Fentapill’. Simply put, there is no acceptable medical classification for the term ‘Fentapill’

What is a ‘Fentapill’? It’s nothing but a marketing moniker, used to cutely describe counterfeit pills, pressed and distributed to look like pharmaceutical grade prescription drugs that contain what could be likely a lethal dose of illicit fentanyl.

I have been repeatedly asked by people in my community, “What’s a Fentapill?’ Is it a new drug out there?” “Is it a new version of ecstasy?’ After explaining it, the common response is, ‘Then why don’t they just say that?’ If I didn’t know better and heard ‘Fentapill’ used out in the streets, I would assume it was drug slang for whatever product the drug dealers are plaguing our communities with. I can only imagine someone saying their child didn’t take a “Fentapill”, that isn’t what they bought!

As advocates, we must always distribute accurate information. ‘Fentapill’ is doing nothing but creating confusion where none is needed. This isn’t the time for cute little tag lines. If we are going to educate people about pills killing thousands of our children and loved ones, call them what they are! Illicit fentanyl, counterfeit pills, even fake pills is a better description than ‘Fentapill’.

“Fentapill” has no place in the cause of raising awareness.

Administrator Anne Milgram - Fentanyl and Prevention PSA

DEA Public Safety Alert - Fake Pills

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is alerting the public of a sharp nationwide increase in the lethality of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills. The DEA Laboratory has found that, of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten now contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. This is an increase from DEA’s previous announcement in 2021 that four out of ten fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills were found to contain a potentially lethal dose. 


DEA Public Safety Alert - Fentanyl Mixed With Xylazine

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use.  


"Grieving Out Loud" with Angela Kennecke

Very Special thanks to Angela Kennecke for giving our family a safe place to share Devin's story. We encourage everyone to listen to the many families stories and professional interviews Angela has captured on her podcast. 

To hear Emily's story and learn more about Emily's Hope please visit their website https://emilyshope.charity/

Snapchat Fentanyl Lawsuit

The Snapchat fentanyl lawsuit represents the families of more than 50 teenagers and young adults who overdosed on fentanyl they accessed through Snapchat. Young people with their whole lives in front of them, the victims were led to believe they were buying prescription medications from dealers they met on Snapchat before dying from fentanyl poisoning. 

Snapchat Fentanyl Lawsuit | Social Media Victims Law Center

The fentanyl deaths of hundreds of young people prompted Social Media Victims Law Center to file a class action lawsuit against Snapchat on behalf of families whose children died after taking fake prescription drugs laced with fentanyl purchase through Snapchat. “They all lost a child to fentanyl poisoning from counterfeit drugs obtained through Snap – not through Instagram, not through Tiktok – but through Snap. This isn’t an internet problem. This isn’t a social media problem. This is a Snapchat problem.” – Matt Bergman Speaking on behalf of the families impacted by Snapchat Fentanyl deaths on ABC News If a Snapchat fentanyl death has impacted you or someone you know, contact Social Media Victims Law Center today to learn more about the Snapchat fentanyl lawsuit and pursue the justice you deserve. 

Learn more: https://socialmediavictims.org/snapchat-lawsuit/fentanyl/

Contact us: https://socialmediavictims.org/contact/

dead on arrival (en español)

dead on arrival

Dead on Arrival,” a short film about fentanyl’s deadly role in the U.S. illicit drug market. Written, produced, directed, and photographed by Dominic Tierno and Christine Wood. The film explores the stories of four families who lost loved ones to fentanyl in various ways and its larger impact on communities of all types. The interviews in “Dead on Arrival” are powerful firstperson accounts of fentanyl deaths told by surviving parents who started V.O.I.D. (Victims of Illicit Drugs), a foundation created to spread awareness and educate others in order to prevent further lives lost.