Possible fentanyl incident being investigated at Toll Gate
School administration and the Warwick Police are investigating a reported instance of a student possessing and possibly “randomly distributing” fentanyl to other students while in a boys’ bathroom at Toll Gate High School last Friday, Sept. 22.
“We are actively investigating the situation,” states a release that was sent to parents soon after school staff learned about the potential incident on Thursday, Sept. 28. “However, we feel the seriousness of the report in light of the current opioid crisis in our country warrants an immediate notice to parents.”
Although the presence of the drug has yet to be confirmed, Superintendent Phil Thornton said that they were exercising an abundance of caution to confirm one way or another. Drug sniffing canines were deployed on Friday morning to assist in the investigation, sweeping parts of the interior and exterior of the school.
“This was done proactively both to address the information we had received yesterday and send a clear message,” said principal Candace Caluori in a release on Friday. “The health and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority.”
Fentanyl is a dangerous, incredibly strong opioid narcotic that is used in small doses as a part of chronic pain management treatments or as a pre-surgery anesthetic. However, the drug has recently increased in use among teens and opioid addicts due to its potency. Depending on its purity and whether or not other chemicals are used to manipulate the narcotic’s chemical structure, incredibly small doses of the drug are able to deliver a high that is between 100 to 10,000 times stronger than morphine.
Fentanyl has achieved notoriety in recent years due to being cut with heroin to deliver a stronger, often deadly dose to unknowing users. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), fentanyl-related overdoses killed approximately 20,100 people in 2016, which is a 540 percent increase in such fatalities over the prior three years.
Thornton said that there have been no reports of fentanyl-related illnesses or emergencies among Toll Gate students. The incident remains under investigation.