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Turning loss into action, local group rallies to spread awareness about fentanyl

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Posted at 1:30 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 21:35:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Association of People Against Lethal Drugs (APALD) held rallies today across 35 different states.

“I lost my son on May 30th of 2020. Jacob. This is him,” said Theresa Guerrero, a Tucson rally-goer and member of APALD.

Jacob used cocaine laced with fentanyl. A family member found him unresponsive and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 31 years old.

James is Mary Ford’s son. “I lost my now and only son. He was 19 years old. And I don’t he struggled for a very long time,” said Ford. James died after using heroin laced with fentanyl.

And there’s Alex, Kristie Figueredo’s son. He was a recovering heroin addict who stayed sober for 14 months.

“And then he ran into one of his buddies and ran back out. He called me into his room saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’ And I went in his room, and he was sitting on the side of the bed and he was grey because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen to his brain,” Figueredo.

Figueredo called 911 but by the time police got there, Alex didn’t have a pulse. He was 27.

Along with these three mother’s who lost their sons in the Tucson area, there are thousands of other lives lost and families affected by fentanyl across the nation.

“We’re trying to bring awareness, because a lot of people don’t know. Just like my son. My son had, I’m sure, no clue that fentanyl was hidden in this drug,” said Guerrero.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths — according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

And for people like Alex, who wanted to get clean, his mother says there needs to be better access to programs.

“There’s nothing they can do, they can’t get off of it alone. And there needs to be stuff out there,” said Figueredo.

“A lot of people want to change, they just don’t have the tools or the people or the atmosphere to get that type of support,” said Jaime Cazares, a leader within Water Walkers 520. It’s a group comprised of men who’ve lived a rough life but persevered and want to give back.

“We reach back to where we come from and a lot of people just need to connect to a body. Every Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. we do a men’s group. Food, daycare, all that stuff just show up and try it out,” said Cazares.