What if I said no?

Contributed by Nicole J

The saying, “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”, is echoing in my head. Questions are flooding my brain. How did it go this far? Did I kill someone? Where do I turn to next? What will people think?

Two nights ago, I went out with my girlfriends to a bar in Philadelphia. We had a blast hitting the dance floor and drinking our fancy cocktails. We took a bathroom break together. A picture hung saying ,“Please don’t do coke in the bathroom”. These “cute” ironic pictures, have become stickers and t-shirts and a sort of fad in the young community. If you read between the lines, the picture is hinting at the fact that many people use drugs causally in party settings. I didn’t know that picture would be an literal SIGN.

How could I have been so naive? My girlfriend asked if anyone wanted to do some blow. Of course we were all in for a good time. My friend Lex made the lines and we all giggled as she snorted the first line. As I was preparing to go next, Lex fell to the ground. My heart dropped. Fast forwarding through the panic, contacting through the authorities while she lay unresponsive, here I am still alive and Lex is dead.

I don’t feel alive as I am picking out my dress for her funeral. Am I a murderer for saying yes to cocaine? What if I said no? I lay down on my bed and I see the picture from the club bathroom, “Please don’t do coke in the bathroom”. We were just having fun…We used to call them “fun enhancers”. Lex only did a little bit of coke… nothing about this is fun. I think I am a murderer.

Eventually the toxicology report came back, the coke was laced with fentanyl. My friends and I had no idea about fentanyl. Fentanyl is an highly-addictive synthetic opioid that is now used in other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Drug dealers use fentanyl because of incredibly small amount needed to get high. National Institute on Drug Abuse says, fentanyl is found to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Looking back, I realized this is happening more often than not. I reflect upon the last several years of my life. I’ve lost friends struggling with drug addiction, most of them died of fentanyl overdose. In 1999, 16,849 fatal overdoses were reported in the United Sates. The numbers have been sky rocketing since then. In 2017, 70,237 fatal overdoses were reported nation wide. National Safety Council, released an article stating, “we are more likely to die of an accidental opioid overdose than a motor vehicle crash”. The FDA states, “an average of 130 Americans die everyday from opioids”. Now my friends who casually use drugs are dying for the same reason.

We do not know what is in drugs. This epidemic is affecting all walks of life. NBC released a story on January 28th, 2020, a 9-month old baby from Bensalem overdosed on fentanyl. Medics were able to save his life by administering Naloxone. His parents were arrested for endangering the welfare of a child. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, was approved by the FDA in 1971 to treat opioid overdose. Once Naloxone is administered by injection it quickly reverses the respiratory depression caused from the overdose. On June 8th, 2018 the FDA approved a generic naloxone nasal spray. The opioid antagonist medication is administered by person who is trained and able to obtain the medicine. It takes about 20 minutes to get trained online on Also, this website will provide information on obtaining Naloxone.

The statistics can be overwhelming or discouraging, however, I see this as a chance to take action. We have the ability to help others by eradicating the stigma attached to addiction and lower number of overdoses through education, funding, and certification of Naloxone. Raising awareness of this epidemic is crucial. Many people are still unclear of how situations of overdose arise and how to save a life in need. As a community we need to ban together to combat this epidemic that is taking the people we love at an alarming rate.