‘Not enough to just say ‘no’ to drugs:’ Bereaved Mukilteo mother on the need for fentanyl education

Apr 11, 2022, 2:29 PM | Updated: 4:22 pm

Trygve suffered from inflamed tonsils. As a 20-year-old, he was embarrassed to speak candidly to his ER doctors and request pain management medication. He knew a guy who knew a guy and purchased Percocet off the street to treat the pain.

He came home from a weekend trip in the northern Cascades with his family and called his girlfriend at around 9:30 in the evening after he finished unpacking. She called him back two hours later to no response. Trygve had accidentally purchased fentanyl, and he overdosed.

“His roommate had found him and tried to give him CPR. He had been gone for over eight hours. My son had to tell me that my other son was dead … I thought maybe his throat swelled up, and he couldn’t breathe. We had just no idea what just happened,” Gen Pehlivanian, Trygve’s mother, told KIRO Newsradio.

That story is familiar to many Washington families, as King and Snohomish counties have consistently reported surging numbers of users of the drug: the former recorded 217 overdose-linked deaths in 2021; the latter a tripling of overdose deaths between 2018 and 2021.

Fentanyl use in Washington continues rise to ‘stunning’ levels, warns UW survey

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s roughly 100-fold stronger than morphine, greatly increases the user’s risk of overdosing from depressed respiration. Pehlivanian, whose children attended Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, is asking that schools better educate children on the dangers of fentanyl to make informed decisions, rather than didactically instructing children to simply say ‘no.’

“I think in all schools, it should be mandatory that they educate not just our kids, but our parents also, on the dangers of fentanyl,” Pehlivanian offered.

“They teach us nothing,” she added. “We need our kids to know about fentanyl. If they don’t know, then they can’t make that choice if they want to do drugs or not.”

“I’ve reached out to so many school districts and I’ve gotten little reply. It angers me, because why are we not wanting to teach our kids about something that could kill them? These deaths are … preventable. It’s not enough to just say ‘no’ to drugs.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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‘Not enough to just say ‘no’ to drugs:’ Bereaved Mukilteo mother on the need for fentanyl education