A group of parents and local Downey activists are coming together to create a task force dedicated to fighting fentanyl poisoning, a growing problem plaguing parents across the United States.
Andy Chavez lost his son, Andrew, earlier this year to fentanyl, and has since made it his goal to help raise awareness of the highly toxic synthetic opioid in hopes of ensuring no one no one else will have to go through what he and his family have.
He remembers morning workouts with his son, whose idol was Arnold Schwarzenegger, at Wilderness Park in Downey. Andy, an all-around athlete from Downey High School, was 19 when he died in April.
“He got hooked very, very quickly,” Chavez said. “After the first pill actually.”
Andy asked his parents for help on his 19th birthday, which led them to check him into a local rehab facility. He had been sober for 90 days before relapsing and checking into another facility.
Chavez said it was a cycle that continued for 11 months until it was too late.
“He was found face down on his bed. Unresponsive. Dead”
It was the realization that there are so many parents like him, who had to bury their children or watch them go through the downward spiral of fentanyl, that led him to reach out to Lissette Rivera.
Rivera, the founder of WOLF, or War on Lethal Fentanyl, has teamed up with other local parents who hope their efforts can help raise awareness in the local communities they are part of. The group, which is similar to DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), focuses on guiding parents in communicating with their children.
“Most parents think, ‘My kid is addicted, I’m going to kick him hard. I’m going to be tough on him,'” Rivera said. “This is no longer the case.”
The group, which refers to itself as the Wolf Pack, says its mission is to win the war against fentanyl, which is killing children in so many communities across the country. They offer lectures on the dangers of fentanyl, advice on choosing the right drug rehab, and health care options.
“You have a community behind you. You are not alone,” Chavez said. “Although no one cares and everyone has pushed you aside, people do. People love you.”
WOLF can be contacted by email here.