TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "I just kind of lost myself completely," Alex Smith, a recovered opioid addict, said. "All it was everyday was look for loose change, find any money I can, borrow money, or lie about what I need the money for just to get that one bit."
Smith, was one of the teenagers in Pima County that was hooked on opioids. He said it started with alcohol and marijuana and then he turned to harder drugs as he got older. Eventually he started to use fentanyl.
"Luckily, I woke up," Smith said after an overdose. "But if I wouldn't have made it, I would've died alone in a car in a random alley by myself."
Mark Person, a program manager for Pima County's Mental Health and Addiction Unit, said that 17 children in the county have died overdosing on fentanyl through the first six months of this year. In comparison, 17 children died from overdoses in all of 2020.
"We are not slowing down. We are not plateauing. It continues to rise and rise and rise," Person said about the opioid deaths in the county.
He warns about the danger's fentanyl has.
"With one pill you can be dead 25-30 minutes later," Person said.
Smith said that three people he knew had died from fentanyl. Now he is working on being an advocate for those who were in his shoes.
"There is so much more for you than the hell you are fighting through," Smith said. "You will emerge and there are so many things that will make you happy."
The county also gives out Naloxone, a nasal spray that can save someone during an overdose, for free. For more information on how to get it, click here.