Powdered, pills, no matter how you slice it – fentanyl kills

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You hear the word fentanyl so often now that you know it is a problem. But when you dive into the deadly drug, it really reveals its magnitude and devastating effects.

“Our story is no different than anyone else,” reflected the Leisman’s.

The couple recalled a treasured message from their son Josh, “Hi. Love you guys. Miss ya.”

But now, that memory is all they have of their son.

It is the harsh reality of addiction. Josh Leisman’s mom and dad can attest, fentanyl kills.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine

Josh Leisman

“That was the hardest day of our life,” said an emotional Kelly Leisman. Their star hockey player son, number 33, was found dead.

“The scary thing with fentanyl is they’re not looking, they’re not necessarily looking to have something with fentanyl when that’s what kills them,” explained Edward Leisman. “And that’s what killed our son.”

One dose of fentanyl, possibly his first, ended Josh’s life at 28 after half a lifetime battling drug dependence.

Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Shahnaz Varghese said the mindset of, “I’m looking to get as many people addicted as possible,” along with two worldwide drug cartels, made fentanyl a more significant problem than ever.

While it’s prescribed for chronic pain like morphine, it is 100 times stronger and can lead to addiction.

The fentanyl crisis is believed to be the worst drug epidemic in American history. Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, Collier County

Fentanyl’s cheap production and frequent mixing with other illegal drugs makes it stronger and more addictive. The tiniest bit can be lethal, and people often unknowingly consume it.

Deadly dose of fentanyl

“Think of it like a cake mix,” explained WINK News Anchor Chris Cifatte. “If I mix in cinnamon powder but don’t mix it well, part of the cake will have too much. Now, cinnamon won’t hurt you, but that much fentanyl will kill you.”

Fentanyl is everywhere

  • DEA seized over 77 million fentanyl pills, 2023
  • Seven out of ten tested contained a deadly dose
  • DEA Seized nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder nationwide, 2023
  • Florida overdose deaths fell slightly
  • Nationwide, the government seized enough fentanyl in 2023 to kill every American

“People talk about it like being a warm hug,” explained Dan, who has been sober for 6 years. “Through my experience with it, it started out that heroin was cut with fentanyl. But now, from my observations, it just seems fentanyl is in everything.”

This drug does not discriminate. Shahnaz Varghese, DEA

We took this to an undercover Fort Myers police officer on the front line against fentanyl.

“Fentanyl poses a unique challenge to both parents, community members, and law enforcement because many things like legal drugs, controlled substances, like Xanax, like Oxycodone, may contain fentanyl,” said the officer.

Fentanyl killed 112,000 Americans in 2023

“So this drug does not discriminate,” Agent Varghese reflected. “This drug does not care whether you live or die. It is happening to all facets of the American public.”

Which brings us to one more number: 33, Josh’s number, now on T-shirts, on angel’s wings.

“It can go from not your problem to your problem,” said Josh’s dad.

“Yeah, he’s definitely our angel. He’s here with us,” said his mom.

Three day before he died, he left them a message. “Hi. Love you guys. Miss ya.”



They have a message of their own now for everyone – Make sure your family knows that one dose can change everything in an instant.

How to spot an overdose

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • Slow, weak, or not breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin, especially lips and nails
  • Limp body

A person acting in good faith who seeks medical
assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose
may not be charged, prosecuted, or penalized. Florida Statute 893.21

What to do if you suspect an overdose

  • Administer naloxone or narcan, if available
  • Call 911
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking

Get help

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