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"1 pill that's all it took": Mom buys billboard to warn others after daughter's deadly fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl-laced pills add to spike in overdoses
Fentanyl-laced pills add to spike in overdoses 02:23

A grieving mother from Texas has put up a billboard to warn others about the dangers of fentanyl, which killed her daughter. Patricia Salvidar rented a billboard near AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which reads: "1 pill that's all it took." 

The sign also features a photo of Salvidar's 22-year-old daughter Cassandra, who died after taking a counterfeit Percocet pill made with fentanyl, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports.

Salvidar said she did not know about the prevalence of the deadly opioid in the area – until her daughter died. "I've asked my family members they didn't know either," she told CBS DFW. "It's something that we don't know. And that's what I'm trying to do is spread awareness so that nobody has to go through the same thing I did."

"1 pill is all I took": Mom buys billboard to warn others after daughter's deadly fentanyl overdose Jason Allen/CBS DFW

The billboard, which is across the street from the stadium parking lots, cost Salvidar $2,100, she said. The Dallas Cowboys play at AT&T Stadium, so countless Texans will see the billboard while attending games. 

This week, Salvidar also went to her daughter's alma matter, Bowie High School in Arlington, to pass out flyers to students, raising awareness about the drug.

"It can happen to anybody," she said. "She was young. Still had her whole life ahead of her."

According to the National Institutes of Health's institute on drug abuse, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. The prescription drug is also made and used illegally and can lead to overdose. 

It is common for drug dealers mix the cheaper fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine to increase their profits, making it often difficult to know which drug is causing the overdose, according to the institute. 

Just last week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public safety alert "warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine."

This is the agency's first public safety alert in six years. Authorities said there has been a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs.

These pills are "deceptively marketed" as real prescription pills and are killing unsuspecting people at an unprecedented rate.

The agency has seized more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills just this year – more than the last two years combined. 

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose, agency laboratory testing revealed. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.   

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