By Alan Gionet

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Families, school leaders and experts huddled online in a meeting organized for the New Vista High School community Wednesday to talk about overdoses and pills laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. The deaths of two teenagers in recent weeks are being looked at as possible fentanyl overdoses. The coroner has yet to verify the causes.

“We’re seeing teens expressing a lot of fear and concern. They’re grieving the loss of friends. I mean these are kids under 18, under 16,” said Mila Long, a peer support specialist and peer case manager for Denver Recovery Group who helps mentor kids in the Boulder area. “I think the people who are using drugs are scared and especially the people who are friends with them and the family members.”

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Long has talked with teens caught up in addiction. Some as young as 13. On Tuesday she met with teenagers who fear overdoses from pills cut with fentanyl, a cheap and highly addictive drug added by dealers to cut costs and bring buyers back.

“There were about three or four times as many teens that usually show up,” she said, noting many wanted Narcan kits, which can be used to save those who have overdosed. “Over 30 teenagers came to get trained in how to use Narcan.”

That was three to four times the usual number at the sessions.

“It’s a big worry for the community, it’s a big worry for the families, it’s a big worry for the school district,” said Trina Faatz, a facilitator for the Boulder County Substance Advisory Group.

The ease of obtaining drugs is a big problem.

“Kids can order street pills which they probably think are real pills. Though the internet, through Snapchat,” said Faatz. “They don’t even know who they purchased it from or they purchased it online and it was advertised as really relaxing of they really help with anxiety.”

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But the dealers who are getting fentanyl from Mexico and China, says Long, will mix in fentanyl to cut cost and increase demand.

“They’ll cut them with fentanyl, whether it’s heroin, cocaine, meth, anything,” said Long. “They’ll cut with fentanyl to make it more addictive so people keep coming back.”

Sometimes it is not mixed in consistently. Test kits that some use may show a pill is fine when testing part of the pill, but then another part may have a high concentration of fentanyl. A grain of salt sized amount can be fatal.

“Especially for a teenager who probably has no tolerance to be taking something like this, it’s very deadly.”

Long advocates abstinence, but notes with people with addiction problems, that’s not always going to happen. “The teens that have been using Xanax off the street, they can’t just stop. But now their supply or the people they’re getting it from, are cutting it with something so lethal that it’s really scary.”

They tell users if they are going to use, start small because you can never take less. They tell them, never use alone and always have Narcan available with someone who knows how to give it.

“The teens who knew them are devastated and, you know, fearful that they’re going to lose more of their friends,” but they are still using, buying and selling.

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“Those who knew them are still going on Snapchat and saying ‘Hey I have Xanax, hey I have percs,'” said Long.

Alan Gionet