San Diego County middle and high school students are invited to participate in the county’s first virtual Student Opioid Assembly on Dec.16 hosted by San Diego County’s District Attorney’s office. 

The county-wide virtual assembly will begin at 9:30 a.m and end at 10:45 a.m which will shine a light on the dangers of opioids through keynote speaker Chris Harren, A former NBA player, and mental wellness advocate will address substance abuse, mental wellness, and lived experience with addiction along with other guest speakers. An Original Opioid Play written and performed by students from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts will be presented. 

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, opioids are a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. 

According to the San Diego Opioid Project, symptoms of addiction may develop as little as five days of first using the drug. Opioid use affects work, hobbies, and relationships until the drug becomes a primary focus in life. As a depressant, the drug will subtly slow breathing and heart rate. Those changes are subtle enough to confuse an overdose for sleeping. 

The most recent information released by the San Diego County Medical Examiner Dr. Steven Campman indicates a 126 percent increase of Fentanyl-caused deaths from mid-year 2019 either along or with another drug. According to the report, it has continued to increase at a more rapid rate than previous years. 

Unintentional deaths due to drug medication and/or alcohol toxicity increased by 21 percent according to the report. The youngest victim to overdose reported to the county’s medical examiner was only 17.

The report cites Methamphetamine as a causative factor in 53 percent of all unintentional overdose cases. Of all deaths, 64 percent occurred at home. 

If you’re struggling with addiction or know someone who is, help is available. Go to or you can call (888) 724-7240.

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