NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WJAR) — Tuesday is Fentanyl Awareness Day, and for some like Paula Young of New Bedford it serves as a stark reminder that she will never speak to her son again.
She says fentanyl robbed her of that privilege.
"My son is no longer here. He is 6 feet underground, and I don't want that for another parent," Young told NBC 10 News.
Young's son Andrew was 33 years old when he bought marijuana from a friend, not knowing it was laced with the deadly substance fentanyl.
"My son knew the person. He had known him for over a year and a half, so he got it from someone he knew, and my son is no longer here," Young said.
Young started a support group shortly after Andrew's death to help her cope with the immense loss.
Other parents shared stories of their children also being poisoned with fentany, many times found to have been in marijuana or cocaine.
"Kids that are between 13 and 17 are smoking marijuana, are experimenting and they are dying," Young said.
Even though Young and the other parents at Achieve Greatness can't bring their children back, they hope to spread the word about the dangers of street drugs.
"The way my son passed away and all of these loved ones are passing away from being poisoned without their knowledge, their legacy is not going to be how they passed away but how many lives they're actually trying to save," Young said.
A billboard along Route 6 in Rehoboth features the photos of 30 people who died from fentanyl poisoning, something that the people at Achieve Greatness say is preventable.
They are hoping state and local lawmakers will work with them to remove the deadly substance from the streets and spare another family the pain that they live with every single day.