Can Song for Charlie come and make a presentation at my high school or for my organization? Do you have anyone near me who can make a presentation?
Song for Charlie does a limited number of live presentations in California and Oregon. We also regularly do virtual presentations for groups across the U.S. We prioritize presentations that reach youth, parents, or organizations that support kids and families. Since we are trying to amplify our message, the larger the audience, the more likely we are to present. If you are interested in having us present, please click here to fill out our presentation request form.
All requests must be submitted at least one month prior to the requested date.
We also have a small number of trusted Song for Charlie partners who also provide fentanyl awareness messaging. If we cannot support your request, we may be able to recommend an alternative presenter for your event.
Does Song for Charlie have content for elementary-aged kids?
No, not at this time. Song for Charlie content is targeted at middle school aged kids and above.
I want to help! How can I raise awareness in my community?
Thanks for wanting to help raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl. There is no one right way to raise awareness; it depends on your interests & skills, and where you live. Our How to Get Involved webpage may help you as you consider how you want to raise awareness.
If you are at a university, check out the SFC Fight Fentanyl College Toolkit. If you are affiliated with a middle school or high school, you can share our MS/HS toolkit with them and ask them to do an awareness campaign for their students and community.
We also have a monthly awareness meeting to connect people who are spreading ideas in their communities. It is a way to hear what others are doing, learn about selected awareness topics, and feel like a part of a community of advocates. If you are interested in attending future meetings, you can click here to sign up.
Lastly, you can sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date on what we are doing and learn of future opportunities to help.
How can I get into my local schools to share my family’s loss to warn others?
Thanks for wanting to help raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl in your local schools. While schools are starting to recognize this issue, it is still often a challenge to get to schools. Here is a section of our website that might help you: https://www.songforcharlie.org/school-outreach
And, FYI, here are some especially good resources from our website:
- You Need to Know Video
- Misc Other video resources
- Middle School & High School Toolkit
- Real Talk About Fentanyl: College Toolkit
- If you haven’t already, I suggest you sign up for our newsletter & follow SFC on FB to keep up to date on our new content as we release it.
If you have any additional questions, you can reach out to our Director of Outreach and Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I volunteer or get involved?
Do you have any Spanish content? Do you have content in other languages?
Can you share my loved one’s story?
We occasionally spotlight youth (under 25) who have been lost to fentanyl in our social media posts. To submit your loved one’s story click here.
We also encourage you to share your loved one’s story in your own social media post, and tag Song for Charlie.
If would like to have your loved one’s picture on the Faces of Fentanyl Memorial Wall at the DEA museum in Washington DC, email your loved one’s picture, name and age to email@example.com
Can I do a Facebook fundraiser for SFC?
I want to help! How can I make a donation?
What is Song for Charlie’s EIN number?
Song for Charlie’s EIN # is: 85-1362612
How can I get Song for Charlie merchandise for my event?
Can I use your videos? Is there a cost?
Do I have permission to use the content on your website?
Can I link to your website?
Yes. Our content is intended for teens, young adults, parents and educators.
Why would dealers sell illicit fentanyl if it is so dangerous?
Illicit fentanyl is an ideal raw material for drug dealers. It is cheap to get and extremely potent. Because it is potent, only a tiny amount of powder is needed to make large quantities of drugs, making it easy to hide from law enforcement and extremely profitable to sell. Money is the biggest driver of illicit drug sales. Trying to get real prescription pills from the pharmacy to the street is difficult and risky. Pressing out a fake oxy is easy and costs the maker just pennies per pill. If an oxy sells for 40 bucks on the street, almost 100% of that goes in the dealers’ pockets. Apply that math to a batch of 5,000 or 10,000 pills and you can see there is A LOT of money to be made by the dealers up and down the supply chain.
Let’s look more closely at how fentapills get into the buyer’s hands. The people making the pills usually sell them to other dealers, who sell them to other dealers, and so on, many times before the deadly pills are sold to the buyer. Whether the pills are made in Mexico or in the U.S., it is highly unlikely that the people making the fentanyl powder and fentapills, or the higher-level dealers, even know that their product has killed someone. They have made their money and moved on. Buyer beware: even a trusted friend does not know what is in the drugs they are giving you; they cannot test the dosages of their pills and have no way of backing their claim that the pills they are offering are safe.
Not all fentapills contain a lethal dose, so many people take a fake pill, assume it was real and then get comfortable taking another. This creates demand, especially since fentanyl is so addictive. This is another feature that dealers like – dependent customers are repeat customers, and that market segment is growing.
What are fentanyl analogs?
An analog is a compound having a structure similar to that of another compound, but differing from it in respect to a certain component. Some fentanyl analogs have been created by pharmaceutical companies for legitimate medical use. Others have been developed by illicit drug traffickers to get around drug laws.
Wikipedia currently lists 84 different fentanyl analogs, and new fentanyl analogs are still being formulated. Not all fentanyl analogs have the same potency. For instance, carfentanyl is 100 times stronger than fentanyl (and 10,000 times more potent than morphine).
What is a “pressed pill?”
A pressed pill, as the name implies, is a tablet made using a pill press machine. Pill presses can be found online and are cheap and easy to purchase. Drug traffickers use molds (or dies) with common brand marks to press pills that look exactly like pharmaceutical prescription pills (we call these fentapills). They start by mixing filler powders and dyes with illicit fentanyl powder. This dry mixture is then run through the pill press – compacted into tablets and stamped with commercial markings in a single step.
Black-market pill pressing operations lack sufficient quality controls, so the dosage varies from pill to pill and from batch to batch. As a result, the potency of any given street pill is impossible to know. This, combined with the fact that they look like safe commercial medications, is what makes fentapills so dangerous.
How many fake pills are out there?
The exact number is impossible to calculate, but we can make an educated estimate based on some informed assumptions. The DEA reports having confiscated 9.6 million counterfeit prescription pills in the first nine months of 2021. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is on pace to confiscate 12,000 lbs. of fentanyl in 2021, a number which includes both powders and pills. We can’t say how much of the powdered fentanyl will be cut into heroin and cocaine, versus how much will be pressed into fentapills.
Experts think that the authorities only stop about 5-10% of the drugs that are smuggled into the country. Applied to the quantities cited above, we conservatively estimate that between 250-500 million fentapills are in circulation in the U.S. at any given time. Again, this is just our estimation.
Are people really dying from taking just one pill?
Yes. In fact, there are documented cases of people dying after ingesting just ONE HALF of a fentapill.
I have heard that there is a way to test a pill for fentanyl before taking it. Is that true?
As fentanyl deaths continue to rise, there is momentum behind promoting Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS) as part of a harm reduction strategy. The most widely distributed FTS is the Rapid Response Fentanyl Test Strip manufactured by BTNX. These FTS are designed to detect several common fentanyl analogs in urine; they were not designed to test pills.
The Harm Reduction community has adopted “off label” uses for the BTNX FTS and actively promotes their use (with significant disclaimers) for testing heroin, cocaine, meth and MDMA. There is strong evidence that FTS detect fentanyl in liquid samples with a high degree of accuracy. However, there are limitations specific to testing fentapills that reduce their usefulness.
- Because of 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.
- Because of uneven mixing, a common problem in illicit pills, you cannot test one pill from a batch and assume that the other pills in the same batch do not contain fentanyl.
- FTS detect the presence of several fentanyl analogs, but do not measure the amount or the potency.
- FTS do not detect all fentanyl analogs.
- Improper dilution can result in a false negative result.
- We do not know if FTS can or will detect the other synthetic opioids that drug traffickers are already using to make fake pills, like nitazenes.
Because of these limitations, FTS do not guarantee safe use of illicit pills.
*Because the fentanyl is never evenly distributed throughout the base powder mixture, part of the pill might have no fentanyl while the other part has a lot. Once the pill is pressed, the components are locked in place. This is called the chocolate chip effect.
My dealer says her pills tested negative for fentanyl, so they are safe. Is that true?
No. There is no such thing as a street pill that has been tested, since that would require dissolving, testing, drying and re-pressing the pills. Sadly, there are dealers making this false claim in order to reassure their customers. Do not believe them.
If you buy pills online or on the street, you cannot know what they contain, no matter what anyone tells you. There currently is no test that will guarantee that a pressed pill does not have fentanyl in it, or even that it has a ‘safe’ amount of fentanyl in it. The only way to ensure that you are getting a safe pill is to get it directly from a pharmacist in a bottle with your name on it.
Fentanyl test strips (FTSs) are regularly promoted by the harm reduction community as a way to reduce the number of overdoses. Fentanyl test strips do not test for all fentanyl analogs, were not created to test pills (they were created to test urine), and their accuracy with pills has not been established; therefore, the use of FTS does not guarantee the safety of pills. We discourage the consumption of ANY illicit pill. Any time a person consumes an illicit pill in the age of fentanyl, they risk dying.
That being said, those fighting substance use disorders who are willing to take the potentially fatal risks that come with consuming illicit pills can reduce their chances of overdosing by using FTS.
In which street drugs is fentanyl being found?
Fentanyl is being integrated into almost all forms of street drugs. In some cases dealers purposely add fentanyl to their drugs to reduce costs, enhance the effect of an existing drug, hook their customers, or all three. Remember, it’s a business and it’s all about making as much money as possible. In some cases, the presence of fentanyl is the result of contamination from traffickers handling multiple drugs in unclean environments or mixing several different powders with the same equipment.
Widespread Fentanyl Contamination:
Fentanyl has been widely detected in all of the street drugs listed below
Fake Pills, including but not limited to:
Drugs to Watch:
Fentanyl in Marijuana: There are reports of fentanyl powder being detected in marijuana, but these are difficult to confirm and there is no evidence that this is currently a widespread practice. In most cases the most likely cause is accidental contamination. We have not identified any instances of people dying from fentanyl poisoning after smoking marijuana. Toxicology experts maintain that dying from smoking fentanyl laced marijuana is highly unlikely, given that fentanyl ignites and burns off at a much lower temperature than the marijuana flower. This is why fentanyl is sometimes “smoked” by heating fentanyl powder on foil and inhaling the vapor.
Fentanyl in Vape Cartridges: There are reports of vape cartridges being filled with fentanyl, but these are not widespread. We have not identified any instances of people dying from fentanyl poisoning after vaping fentanyl using a vape cartridge. Some people argue that vaping fentanyl is not possible because the fentanyl is destroyed before it reaches the temperature when it becomes a vapor. We do not believe this is true. A research article entitled Fentanyl vapor self-administration model in mice to study opioid addiction describes research that shows where ”mice readily self-administered fentanyl vapor, titrated their drug intake, and exhibited addiction-like behaviors, including escalation of drug intake, somatic signs of withdrawal, drug intake despite punishment, and reinstatement of drug seeking.”
Is death from a fentapill an “overdose” or a “poisoning”?
The terms “poisoning” and “overdose” are both used by the CDC, medical examiners and law enforcement professionals to describe drug related deaths. So, from a governmental reporting standpoint, fentanyl deaths are indeed called both “poisonings” and/or “overdoses”. However, these terms are not always used consistently between organizations, making the reporting of “poisonings” and “overdoses” complicated and sometimes inaccurate.
We think the language we use to describe drug deaths should be updated to accommodate recent developments brought on by the emergence of fentapills. An overdose occurs when a person ingests too much of a known substance, resulting in either illness or death. Fentapill deaths are different. The consumer is being deceived. Many people ingest a fentapill believing they are taking a legitimate prescription medication such as oxycodone or Percocet. They typically ingest the recommended dose of their intended drug – a single pill – and die from fentanyl toxicity. Because of the deception, such a death is most accurately classified as poisoning.
Updating the language is necessary to address the problem appropriately. The solutions we have historically applied to the opioid “overdose” crisis do not apply across the board in the age of fentanyl and fake pills.
Why are so many people dying from illicit fentanyl?
There a few main contributors to the large increase in deaths from illicit fentanyl:
- Supply– The amount of fentanyl being sold by drug dealers has increased dramatically since it was introduced into the illicit drug supply in the early 2010s. We estimate there are millions of fentapills currently in circulation in the U.S., more than ever before. Social media has also made these cheap fake pills much more accessible to anyone who wants them.
- Deceit– A major factor in fentanyl deaths is the fraudulent way that it is marketed and sold. Whether fentanyl is consumed in pill form or in other street drugs, dealers don’t always disclose that their product contains fentanyl, even if they know it does. Dealers often make their products with fentanyl and pass it off as a more familiar and less potent substance.
- Potency– Fentanyl is extremely potent and lethal in very small amounts. Illicit fentapills are not made with high quality controls, so many of the street drugs and fake pills being offered by dealers are deadly and the consumer bears the risk.
These combined issues have caused the number of deaths from fentanyl to skyrocket in recent years.
Why is fentanyl not evenly distributed? Rather than testing, what's stopping them being mixed thoroughly before pressing in the first place?
Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars to hire specially trained scientists, develop precise technology, and buy complex equipment to ensure the fentanyl they make for hospitals and doctors is precisely dosed .The cartels who are making illicit fentanyl are in it for the profit, and are not interested in investing in the technology that is required to evenly mix a drug as potent as fentanyl. The illicit fentanyl that is sold on the street will never be dosed as precisely as pharmaceutical fentanyl. For more details see our Facts about Fentanyl.
Where can I get or locate naloxone?
Song for Charlie does not distribute naloxone (Narcan) except when doing selected local events. Check with your local pharmacy or Health Department to find out how and where you can get naloxone. You may also have luck finding naloxone at one of the following websites: End Overdose, Get Naloxone Now, Find Naloxone Near You The rules around distributing naloxone (Narcan) vary by State (LAPPA Naloxone Access: Summary of State Laws).
Is fentanyl really being found in edibles and weed?
There are reports of fentanyl powder being detected in marijuana, but there is no evidence that this is currently a widespread practice by the cartels. While we hear reports of deaths from fentanyl laced weed, often (but not always) investigation determines that the person was using other street drugs while using marijuana. Toxicology experts maintain that dying from smoking fentanyl laced marijuana is highly unlikely, given that fentanyl ignites and burns off at a much lower temperature than the marijuana flower. In most cases where fentanyl laced weed is found, the most likely cause is accidental contamination since today’s drug dealers typically carry a selection of drugs. While fentanyl-laced marijuana is not widespread, we recommend users only use weed purchased from a legal dispensary.
Colloquially, we have heard of fentanyl laced edibles, but we have not seen evidence of this being a widespread practice at this time.
For more details see our Facts about Fentanyl.
Why aren’t you sharing harm reduction tips instead of all the “just say no” rhetoric?
We believe harm reduction, along with supply reduction, addiction services, recovery support, social media safety, etc. all play a role in resolving the fentanyl crisis in America. In order to be successful at what we do, Song for Charlie has purposely chosen a very specific part of the problem to focus on: warning kids and parents about the dangers of fentanyl & fake pills, where they are and in their language. Our research has shown that the majority of teens still do not know about fake pills being made of fentanyl, so much of our messaging revolves around that. We believe a 14 year old needs to hear different drug messaging than a 30 year old. Younger teens need to hear the facts in a prevention-leaning message. Our college messaging is broader and includes more information about harm reduction methods. There are many harm-reduction organizations out there getting that message out; we are trying to fill a gap to inform the younger, more drug naive population.
Why is fentanyl so easy to get if you’re a kid?
Fentanyl is the drug of choice for the cartels because it is cheap & easy to produce and they make big profits from it. Most drug-naive kids/teens are not seeking fentanyl, but are getting it when they ask for prescription drugs that they perceive to be safer, such as Xanax, Percocet, Oxycontin, or MDMA. Nearly all of the pills sold on social media are fake, and most of them contain fentanyl.
Drugs are no longer being sold in a dark alley on the bad side of town. With the proliferation of cell phones and social media, drug dealers are now reaching customers in their own homes. While the social media companies all have safety policies, drug dealers can still be found on every social media platform. Someone looking for drugs can easily find a dealer with just a few clicks. Dealers entice new customers with playful looking posts with colorful pills for fun emojis. And dealers will deliver to your doorstep within minutes, sometimes even taking payment via gift cards to popular stores. Kids also often get fentapills from their friends– passed at school, at work,, in parks, or at parties. Unfortunately, the supply of fentanyl is not going to go away quickly, and parents need to understand and monitor the social media apps their kids use, and have regular talks about the increased risk of today’s changing drug supply.
Can you help me find recovery resources?