Song for Charlie > Resources > College Toolkit

Today, fake pills made of illicit fentanyl are ubiquitous in America, and young people are dying at record rates. No university is immune to the danger of illicit fentanyl, now being found in all street drugs including cocaine, MDMA, and fake prescription pills being sold as Percocet (percs), oxycodone (oxys), Xanax, Adderall and more. Every college student needs to know about the danger of fentanyl and be on alert. Your life could depend on it.

Each college campus has a different culture, and awareness campaigns need to be tailored to each school’s unique environment. This toolkit is intended to be a resource to any student/school looking to raise awareness about the increased danger of the street drugs being circulated today.


Fentanyl Basics

Illicit fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is commonly prescribed by doctors to prevent severe pain during surgery or from advanced-stage cancer. Cartels manufacture illicit fentanyl in garages, warehouses and other clandestine locations and distribute it through the illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. The cartels have introduced illicit fentanyl into the street drug supply as a way to make money from America’s demand for illicit drugs; they are not concerned about the buyer of the drugs. Fentanyl is a ‘shape shifter’ and is being found in just about every street drug being sold today including cocaine, MDMA, meth, heroin, and pills made to look exactly like Percocet (percs), oxycodone (oxys), Xanax, Adderall and more. 


The deception used by today’s drug dealers, the increased and unpredictable potency of the synthetic drugs being offered, and the ease of getting illicit drugs through social media make today’s street drug scene more dangerous than ever before, and often deadly. Dealers are selling pills made of illicit fentanyl as Xanax, Adderall, percs, oxys, and more. Dealers are not only supplying drugs to existing users, they are trying to entice new users to use illicit drugs by deceiving buyers into thinking they are getting legitimate pharmaceuticals, offering ‘fun’ looking pills, advertising with emojis, etc. Many young victims were not aware of the danger of street pills being made of illicit fentanyl or other drugs being laced or contaminated with fentanyl. In order to protect themselves, every young American needs to be aware that any pill obtained from any place other than a pharmacy is most likely fake, and 40% of today’s street pills have been found to contain potentially deadly levels of fentanyl. And because dealers no longer sell just one drug, all street drugs have a high risk of fentanyl contamination, and could potentially be deadly.


More about fentanyl: 

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

An opioid overdose is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency attention. Because breathing can be dangerously slowed or stopped during an overdose, an untreated overdose can lead to severe brain damage or death. An overdose is usually not a dramatic event and recognizing the signs of opioid overdose is essential to saving lives. Call 911 immediately if a person exhibits ANY of the following symptoms:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”

  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness

  • Slow, shallow breathing

  • Choking or gurgling sounds

  • Limp body

  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

(symptoms according to the CDC)



Good Samaritan Laws

At times bystanders choose not to call 911 for help because they fear they will be arrested for drug possession or similar charges. In reality, most states have good samaritan drug overdose immunity laws that protect any person who calls for help when someone is overdosing. Understand the laws in your state, and if ever in doubt, CALL FOR HELP. In the event of an overdose, timely response is critical. 

Naloxone (a.k.a. Narcan ®)

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medication that is used to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone can quickly restore breathing to a person who is experiencing an overdose, but has no effect on a person who does not have opioids in their system. In most states naloxone is available from pharmacies without a prescription. You can also get naloxone from community-based naloxone programs or harm-reduction organizations.


Naloxone Drug Facts: 


How to administer Naloxone: 


Naloxone is available over the counter at your local pharmacy: 

Naloxone laws and availability currently vary by state. We recommend checking for naloxone at your local pharmacy, or checking with your local health department. In March 2023 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, 4 milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription, use. This means Narcan will become more widely available in stores without a prescription in the coming months. In the meantime, the following organizations may also be helpful in trying to find naloxone near you:


Naloxone State Laws: 

Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS)

Fentanyl test strips are often offered as a tool to reduce the harms of illicit drug use. Before using fentanyl test strips, users need to understand their limitations: 

  • While FTS detect the most common analogs of fentanyl at a given time, FTS do not test for all fentanyl analogs or for other drugs such as nitazenes and xylazines. The illicit drug supply is constantly changing and there is no guarantee the FTS will detect future fentanyl analogs or other drugs coming down the line.

  • Testing pills: Due to the chocolate chip effect, you cannot test a portion of a pill and be sure that the rest of the tablet or batch is free of fentanyl. You must dissolve everything that is to be consumed prior to testing. If you test one pill in a batch and it tests negative for fentanyl, that does not mean other pills in that batch are safe. Organizations do not agree on the testing methods for pills. More research is needed to determine the most accurate testing method for pills.

  • Testing Powders: Most harm reduction organizations say you can reduce harm by testing a portion of the powder you wish to consume. Precisely follow the instructions on test strip for best results.

  • Don’t believe anyone who says their pill or powder has been tested & is safe. Since a pill must be destroyed in order to be tested, if they tell you their pill has been tested they are lying to you. If you choose to use a powder, test the drug yourself.

  • Not precisely following the FTS instruction can impact results.

  • Tests have shown that some brands of fentanyl test strips are more reliable than others.

  • FTS laws/access vary by state


While FTS are believed to reduce the number of overdoses, FTS do not guarantee the safety of a drug. If a person chooses to consume a drug that has been tested, harm reduction organizations suggest they should “not use alone & go slow” and have naloxone on hand.


Organizations distributing FTS: 


How to Use FTS:


State Laws Relating to FTS: 

LAPPA FTS Fact Sheet


FTS Research: 

Free Song for Charlie Resources

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Misc. College Awareness Ideas

  • Implement a Team Awareness Combatting Overdose (TACO) chapter at your school.

  • Have pop-up naloxone distribution centers.

  • Provide overdose reversal kits to students.

  • Create overdose reversal kits with naloxone and place them in central places around campus (similar to defibrillators & fire extinguishers).

  • Put fentanyl/fake pill posters around campus- in dorms, on back of bathroom stall doors, in student center, at sports complexes, etc.

  • If health center distributes prescriptions, include fake pill warning with every prescription dispensed.

  • Make fake pill awareness (via flyer, video, etc) required for anyone receiving mental health help through student health center.

  • Install naloxone vending machines (as done at the Ann Arbor District Library by

  • Consider making naloxone and fentanyl test strips available at student centers, requiring students to watch an informational video to receive items.

  • Consider fentanyl test strip pop-ups with training & discussion.

  • Have greek system create an awareness campaign.

  • Include fentanyl awareness training as a part of freshman orientation.

  • Make fentanyl awareness, naloxone & FTS training a part of all residential assistant (RA) training.

  • Have RA’s show “You Need to Know” video to all students on their floor, and lead discussion.

Social Media Campaigns

We encourage everyone to post warnings across their social media accounts.

Social media content is available for free at:

Content can also be freely pulled from Song for Charlie’s social media accounts and used on your own social media sites:

The Problem


May be behind paywall:

Note About Harm Reduction

Data show that many youth are unaware of or misunderstand the fentanyl problem. Accurate perception of harm has been shown to be a protective factor. Therefore, Song for Charlie believes greater education and awareness of the fentanyl problem for youth in particular will reduce harm.


Song for Charlie recognizes that one-size-fits-all approaches often aren’t optimal. Some of the content in this particular toolkit may not fit with policies and practices of organizations serving younger audiences.


The goal of harm reduction is to protect the health and lives of people, even if they choose to use substances. Song for Charlie focuses on protecting the health and lives of young people from the risks associated with illicit drug use especially in today’s synthetic and deceptive landscape, where harm reduction has been shown to play a valuable role.


It is not unusual for colleges and universities to offer both harm reduction messages (i.e. limiting binge drinking) and harm reduction interventions (i.e. naloxone and fentanyl test strip distribution). Given little available evidence around the effectiveness and interplay between primary prevention education and specific harm reduction interventions for younger ages where illicit substance use is less common than in the general population, we do not promote many harm reduction interventions for K-12 ages. However, we recognize that illicit drug use is more common in college age youth, as are individual agency and decision making capabilities. Therefore, we include more harm reduction messages and interventions for this age group.

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