Health and Safety Update – Local reports of “rainbow” fentanyl pills targeting minors


Local law enforcement and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials have seen an alarming influx of “rainbow” fentanyl (an extremely potent and dangerous synthetic opioid) in the greater Sacramento region that is being marketed to kids and young adults. Rainbow fentanyl can be found in many forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that can resemble sidewalk chalk or candy. We are sharing this press release from the Placer County District Attorney’s Office with our families so they are aware and can see its local impact. CDPH also issued a statewide emergency alert communication to the public and all schools as fentanyl continues to be a major contributor to accidental drug overdoses in California among youth The ‘rainbow’ fentanyl is being sold primarily on app-based programs such as Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok. 

In March of 2021, Jesuit-Sacramento in conjunction with our Jesuit School Network partners from Jesuit-Portland and Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, CA hosted a webinar to provide information and resources to help parents talk to their children about the dangers of fentanyl. We would like to invite you to view or review that webinar again in light of a recent increase in local fentanyl trafficking. 

While we thankfully have not seen any specific incidences of prescription or recreational pill use/abuse at Jesuit-Sacramento, there have been a number of incidents in Sacramento-area middle and high schools just within the last year.  The scope of this nationwide problem is astounding!  More specifically, fentanyl overdose deaths in California increased 1513% between 2016 and 2020. 

In their press release, Placer County reports a 450% increase in fentanyl deaths between 2018-2021 with nearly half of the individuals in Placer County who suffered a fatal fentanyl overdose being 25 years old or younger.  Similar increases have been noted throughout Northern California as well as around the country. 

According to the CDC, fentanyl is now the number one cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45, surpassing suicide and car accident-related deaths, with 71,238 overdose deaths in 2021. That number equates to approximately 195 per day nationwide. It is important to note that many of these deaths were not the result of prolonged drug abuse.  While fentanyl overdoses are commonly attributed to addiction to pills, many of these deaths occurred as a result of the occasional experimental use of a variety of substances.  Some fentanyl overdose deaths have been attributed to the first known occurrence of the victim’s use of pills, off-market vape pens, and even marijuana.  While these numbers and scenarios are scary and breathtaking, we hope this information and the attached resources are informative and help you to have this very important conversation with your children.