AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Cedar Park mother whose son died from a pill laced with fentanyl organized an event Monday night to answer other parents’ questions about the deadly drug.
Becky Stewart started “A Change for Cam,” named after her son, after he died in March 2021. The goal is to educate families and students about the dangers of fake pills, including a panel Monday from 6-7:30 p.m. The event was at Hill Country Bible Church at 12124 Ranch Road 620 North and was also streamed online. You can watch the panel here.
“He made really a poor choice and bought a pill off of Snapchat, and that one pill ended his life. He took that one pill and never woke up,” Stewart said.
Her son’s death prompted her to focus on educating communities, including her own, about the deadly drug.
“We asked in the education today how many had heard of fentanyl before, a lot raised their hands, but a lot didn’t, and it’s scary how many have never heard of it,” said Stewart.
KXAN Investigator Arezow Doost first profiled their family in a KXAN investigation last year about how deaths caused by fentanyl were higher than ever in Central Texas. She moderated the panel, which also included State Rep. Ann Johnson, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement, plus mental health experts and affected family members.
“So I think the important message tonight that this family has to share is their unbearable loss, and the fact that their unbearable loss is preventable if we have conversations with our children, letting them know about illegal drug use,” said State Rep. Johnson, who represents District 134.
Johnson said it’s not just about educating our children — it’s also about showing drug dealers that selling fentanyl in the state of Texas won’t be tolerated.
“There is a distinction between people who are suffering addiction and those who are delivering, those who are making people addicts, those who are selling for $30 bucks a pill the risk of death,” she said. “And so we are sending a clear message that those individuals are going to be punished at a higher level under Texas law.”
“The delivery of this drug is killing children, and that’s why we’re taking it so seriously,” the lawmaker continued.
Stewart urges families reach out to their school districts and ask them to get some sort of education on fentanyl in classes or hold community discussions.
“It doesn’t have to be a big, huge production. It can be just a group of people getting together and having a discussion about it or a video-taped discussion about it, just to get the word out there,” Stewart said.
The event, called “One Pill Can Kill: A Fentanyl Awareness Panel Discussion” was free to the public.
KXAN recently analyzed deaths caused by synthetic opioids across the nation and found while Texas was among many that have seen an increase, four states actually saw drops in these kinds of deaths. The investigation reveals what solutions are working in those four states and whether they could be implemented here.