LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Shortly after National Opioid Awareness Day, state, county and community leaders are launching a new united effort to save lives called "Fentanyl Frontline."
They came together to tell us what actions we can take as a community.
Law enforcement says Los Angeles County is in its worst overdose crisis in history. Health officials say illicit opioid drug use is up especially among youth. Every family's story of overdose breaks your heart because it could have been prevented.
"Deenilson was one of a kind. A firecracker. Full of life," said his mother, Alma Sanchez of Rialto.
During the pandemic, she didn't know her son, Deenilson Pelayo, had found a way to access opioid drugs on social media.
"Parents: Everything that you try to protect and shield your children from is only one click away. And the drugs were being delivered right to my doorstep," she said.
Pelayo was a high-school athlete with dreams of helping troubled youth. But stay-at-home orders, sadness and boredom led to an addiction that eventually took his life at the age of 19 in December 2021.
"I got the call that no mother wants to get. It was a call from the coroner's office and I remember the voice. He said, 'He didn't make it and you need to identify his body,'" Sanchez said.
The cause of death: One counterfeit pill, laced with fentanyl.
"These are fentanyl pills that are pressed to look like prescription drugs, that are mass produced by drug cartels in Mexico," said William D. Bodner, DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division.
Law enforcement reported 236 drug related deaths in Los Angeles County in 2022. So far in 2023, the count is up to 205. L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna says the threat to kids can be found in every school and on every cell phone.
"We are seizing an enormous amounts of fentanyl in pills, powder form and in large quantities," he said.
County, state, federal and school district partners launched a new awareness program called "Fentanyl Frontline."
"We want to share a few messages of hope in action. One is to get naloxone. Have it in your car and in your home, " said Gary Tsai, bureau director in the Department of Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention & Control.
The opioid overdose antidote called Narcan is available through prescription and over the counter. Tsai said people who can't quit should not use alone. And just having conversations about fentanyl can help remove the stigma and shame.
"Every friend, neighbor or coach can make a difference by talking about this," said Luna.
A conversation that could have saved Deenilson Pelayo.
"Kids need to learn from their mistakes, not die from them," said Sanchez.
Sanchez now volunteers for VOID, Victims of Ilicit Drugs.
She says don't wait until you suspect something. Talk to you kids about fentanyl use because awareness and education can make a difference.