National Fentanyl Awareness Day: SoCal mother shares heartbreaking loss of 14-year-old son

Jessica De Nova Image
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
OC mom speaks out on fentanyl overdose as DEA declares awareness day
The DEA declared May 10 as National Fentanyl Awareness Day, and an Orange County mother who lost her teen son to a fentanyl overdose said it's just a start.

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declared May 10 as National Fentanyl Awareness Day and released a video announcement from the agency's administrator.

Amy Neville is an Orange County mother who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose. Neville said the dangers of fentanyl need attention year-round.

"A little one-day blip is, it's a great start, but we need to see that long-term, large-scale focus every single day," Neville said.

June marks two years since the death of Neville's 14-year-old son, Alexander Neville. During a Zoom interview with Eyewitness News, she said it started on Snapchat.

"He got what he believed to be OxyContin from a drug dealer on social media and it turned out to be fentanyl," Neville said.

Neville found her son passed out on the ground in his room on June 23. They were supposed to go to his orthodontist appointment that morning.

"He was completely blue on one side of his face and not breathing and cold and I yelled out to his dad and they heard me yell and his dad came up and started CPR right away," Neville said in tears.

Family turns grief into action after 22-year-old son dies from accidental fentanyl poisoning

"The difference between high and die is a matter of micrograms in a dosage." 22-year-old Charlie Ternan took just one pill thinking it was a Percocet that would alleviate his back pain.

Neville said Alexander died of a fentanyl overdose. Her son had been comfortable enough with his parents to admit he was experimenting with drugs.

"He needed help, so we immediately called the place to get him in and not even 36 hours later, Alex was gone," Neville said.

Neville turned her pain into awareness through the Alexander Neville Foundation and Victims of Illicit Drugs or VOID.

Through a peer-to-peer program, Neville trains teens to spread the word about the risks of fentanyl and seeking drugs online or on the street.

"Arm them with bracelets and stickers and things that they can give out to their friends, 'cause ultimately, who are these kids gonna listen to, right? The biggest influence in Alexander's life at that time were his friends," Neville said.

The DEA has created a special exhibit, The Faces of Fentanyl, in its museum. Anyone wanting to submit a picture of a loved one lost to the drug is asked to post the picture with the person's name on social media using the hashtag National Fentanyl Awareness Day or email the photo and name to