by Dan Pine / excerpted from JWeekly
The parents of Greenbrae teen Trevor Leopold said their son resisted help when it came to drug use. Michelle and Jeff Leopold watched helplessly as Trevor became a habitual cannabis user two years after his bar mitzvah at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael. The drug caused violent outbursts, according to his parents, including one time when he physically struck his mother.
“It was a very turbulent four years for everyone involved,” Jeff Leopold said. “For a lot of it, he didn’t want help. He made the decision to go backwards.”
Added Michelle Leopold: “He resisted his diagnosis: cannabis use disorder. He refused to take medicine after his first round of rehab, preferring to self-medicate. A lot of it was about anxiety, but the good thing that came out of the different rehab programs was there was always a family counseling component. So Trevor was getting the tools in his tool belt to get through his addiction disease.”
By the late summer of 2019, Trevor had completed an out-of-state rehab program, graduated high school and enrolled at Sonoma State University. Things were looking up.
But one day in November of that year, according to witnesses, Trevor purchased and ingested what he thought was an oxycodone pill. A toxicology report later confirmed it had been laced with fentanyl. He died in his dorm room, at the age of 18.
“One thing I wonder,” his mother said. “If that pill hadn’t been laced with fentanyl, would Trevor still be alive? There’s a good possibility he would. It was supposed to be oxycodone. [That] does not kill you. That’s what’s happening with young adults. They don’t know about fentanyl, and even if they do know, they think they’re invincible.”
Though some users become addicted to opioids such as fentanyl, the drug has proved insidious because so many victims — Cameron and Trevor likely among them — never knew they were taking it.
Nearly 110,00 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses last year. A recent New York Times report noted that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids contributed to about 68% of those deaths. Today, synthetic opioids are contributing to an average of 3,400 emergency room visits and 190 fatal overdoses every day in the United States, according to the Times.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, an average of 16 people are dying of overdoses every week. In 2020, the highest year for accidental overdoses in S.F. on record, 725 people died, a figure almost three times higher than Covid deaths that year.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced in April that SFPD had seized more than 60 kilograms of illegal fentanyl so far in 2023, which she said amounted to “over 30 million lethal doses of the deadly drug. This is an increase of 160% over the same time period last year,” her statement read.