‘Fentanyl is a different animal’ - Alaska mother touts new education bill as fentanyl continues to kill
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The synthetic opioid fentanyl continues to kill Americans, and Alaskans are dying at the highest rate in the country. An Alaska mother lost her son in October 2021 and is trying to prevent others from suffering the same fate.
“He loved Alaska. He loved the outdoors,” said Sandy Snodgrass, the mother of Bruce Snodgrass.
Sandy wants everyone to see his face. The face of a normal kid from Alaska who loved fishing and the mountains, who died at 22 because of fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is a different animal. Fentanyl is a different thing,” said Snodgrass.
Sandy tells me her son struggled with addiction but was on the road to recovery. She expected a relapse to set back his progress, not kill him. But Bruce’s unknown encounter with fentanyl did just that.
“The fentanyl poisoning prevented him from being able to reach his goal of long-term recovery,” said Snodgrass.
Sandy is urging education surrounding the dangers of fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 71,000 Americans died from the synthetic opioid in 2021. Alaska saw a 75.3% increase in overdose deaths from 2020 to 2021, the largest percentage increase of any state.
Snodgrass believes not enough people realize fentanyl can be found in many different drugs, and it only takes a pencil tip’s worth to kill.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she introduced “Bruce’s Law” to try to tackle one of the root causes of fentanyl deaths - lack of awareness.
“We’ve got to bring about better awareness so that we can cut this off,” said Murkowski.
Murkowski’s bill would charge the Department of Health and Human Services with launching awareness campaigns around the country, focusing on young people, and hoping to minimize the impact of fentanyl-compromised drugs.
“You should assume that fentanyl could be included in every one of those. And you should assume that you could die from it,” said Murkowski.
The legislation bearing her son’s name will not bring Bruce back to Sandy. But should the bipartisan bill pass into law, Sandy hopes it could have a legacy that can keep other sons and daughters in their mothers’ arms.
“Maybe people will see that and say, ‘Oh, that could be my son.’ And that they’ll talk to their children immediately,” said Snodgrass.
The timeline for a vote on the bill in the Senate is currently unknown.
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