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SAMHSA Challenges Youth to Tackle Fentanyl Dangers

Friday, December 15, 2023

Recently the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a new initiative called the “FentAlert: Empowering Youth for Safer Choices - SAMHSA Fentanyl Awareness Youth Challenge.” The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) shares that message with Oklahoma teens to help promote healthy and safe communities.

This challenge invites U.S. youth aged 14-18 to propose innovative community strategies addressing fentanyl awareness, education and prevention. The focus lies on combating fake pills and other contaminants, which contribute to drug overdose fatalities.

Recent national data shows adolescents ages 10-19, experienced a 109% increase in monthly drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2021.

  • Deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl increased 182%.
  • About 90% of these deaths involved opioids and 84% involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
  • Counterfeit pills were present in nearly 25% of these deaths.
  • Two-thirds of those who died had one or more potential bystanders present, but most didn’t provide an overdose response (many bystanders were in another room or didn’t know that drugs were being used).

SAMHSA has invited teens across the country to craft ideas that engage peers and communities in fentanyl education and overdose prevention. Submissions can include diverse platforms such as social media, vlogs, podcasts or video journals, aiming to resonate and empower youth on this pressing matter.

Key challenge details:

  • Challenge Launch: Dec. 1, 2023
  • Submission Period: Dec. 1, 2023 to Feb. 26, 2024, 5 p.m. CT
  • Judging: Feb./March 2024
  • Winner Announcement: April 2024

The top six ideas will each receive a $5,000 prize, while up to 25 youths will be honored with a $2,000 honorable mention prize.

Eligibility criteria and comprehensive details on this impactful challenge can be found here.

ODMHSAS Communications

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