KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One mother with ties to Kansas City has a grim message — one she’s posted on a billboard near the downtown loop.
Sara Manser often references “the other epidemic.” Thousands of American have lost loves ones to fentanyl abuse, some of whom never intended to use it. She’s spent $1,200 on a new billboard that bears a photo of her late son, Ashton Harmon-Manser, 22, who died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl in Sept. 2020.
“It’s painful. Every day,” Manser said on Thursday. “I wanted it to be known this is a picture of my son and he died from fentanyl. I want someone to see that.”
Manser said her late son had been an addict who’d received treatment, as well as jail time, and while he intended to use Oxycontin, he couldn’t have known those pills were laced with fentanyl. Manser said he first tried fentanyl while he was staying at a halfway house.
“A lot of parents are going through the exact same thing as I am. Just trying to spread this awareness out there because it’s not talked about enough. It’s the stigma behind it,” Manser said.
Drug treatment experts report seeing more common fentanyl sightings spiked into other drugs. Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden recently talked with FOX4 about fentanyl being spotted in marijuana, which wasn’t the case in the recent past.
Chuck Liston, an outreach coordinator with Friends of Recovery, said he believes there isn’t enough help and education for people who are at risk for unknowingly using fentanyl when they intended to use less-lethal drugs.
“It’s in the meth. It’s in the Molly. It’s in the heroin,” Liston said. “It takes such a little amount of fentanyl or carfentanil to literally — it surpasses your breathing to where your brain stops reminding your lungs to breath.”
Manser now lives in Kentucky. She said Lamar Outdoor Advertising discounted the price of the billboard for her. She and other parents have signed a letter to be sent to President Joe Biden asking him to declare this a national crisis.
The first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day is this Sunday. Manser said she and other families affected by this will protest outside all 50 state capitols, including those in Jefferson City, Missouri and Topeka, Kansas.
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