FAU PEP Talk hosts event on preventing fentanyl overdose

Student Government held an event to give out free Narcan and educate FAU students on fentanyl overdose deaths and how to prevent them.


Andre Ornelas

Katie Brennan (left) speaks alongside Mary Casey (right) to the FAU community on the dangers of drug overdose in Psychoeducational Programming’s Save A Life event on Sept. 9, 2022.

Mary Rasura, Contributing Writer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64% of drug overdose deaths in the United States from May 2020 to April 2021 were due to fentanyl. Criminal justice sophomore Justine Kantor is advocating to change that.

Student Government held an event in the Live Oak Pavilion Friday night titled “Save a Life: Prevent an Overdose,” which educated on fentanyl overdose deaths and gave out free Narcan for students as prevention in an emergency.

As director of Psychoeducational Programming (PEP Talk), Kantor intends to reduce the stigma of mental illness by planning events on campus, as she has personal experience with fentanyl overdose.

“My friend Brandon did heroin and it was laced with fentanyl and he died. He was just an amazing person,” Kantor said.

“And also my dad is a big inspiration for me because he works in the drug and alcohol recovery field,” she continued.

By having friends who’ve gone through fentanyl overdose and growing up in a community which encouraged talking about it, she wanted to bring awareness to FAU because she wanted to “save the students from what could be a detrimental choice.”

Social work senior Austin Wright and Tess Moody, an anthropology graduate student and graduate student substance safety worker at Owls Care Health Promotion, were giving out free Narcan from Rebel Recovery, a harm reduction and peer support agency that supports people struggling with substance abuse in Palm Beach County. 

“We support anybody in whatever recovery pathway they’re looking to do, whether that is abstinence, 12-step, or if that’s just needing support to work towards certain goals without changing their substance use at all,” said Wright. 

Moody had the following advice for students. 

“Even if you think you have no friends because you just moved out of state to go to school, perhaps there’s someone you stumble upon in a parking lot and you just so happen to have the thing that is their life or death in your pocket,” she said. “It’s very convenient to carry. It’s small. It’s very easy to use.”

Sergeant Efren Johnson from FAU’s Police Department discussed the Good Samaritan law, which allows people to administer Narcan to bystanders without being held liable. 

“Let’s say we’re out in Boca mall, and you see someone you believe is experiencing an overdose and you submit Narcan to them. You call 911. You administer the Narcan and that person unfortunately does not make it. You’re not held liable because of what happened,” Johnson said. 

There is also the FAU medical amnesty policy, which allows students and the individuals in distress to be exempt from student conduct action if they seek emergency assistance for themselves, another student, or a friend experiencing an alcohol and/or another drug related emergency.

Guest speaker Katie Brennan discussed losing her sister, Courtney, because she was unable to get a required second heart surgery due to drug use. She was sober at the time of her death. 

“It’s great to have fun, but just be aware of what you’re doing. Know your limits. And if you’re using [drugs] as a way to numb yourself, it’s not going to help your problems,” Brennan said. “They’re still going to be waiting for you and I know [Courtney] would have wanted her story told and if it could help just one person in this world, it would mean something.“

Mary Rasura is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @maryrasura