BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Graduation season is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time for caution.

The prevalence of fentanyl in recreational street drugs means danger could lurk at many graduation parties. The Bakersfield Police Department hopes to make that point clear as schools across Kern County prepare for this weekend’s festivities.

About a year ago, 18-year-old East High volleyball star Destiny Ayala died of fentanyl poisoning just 24 hours after her graduation – most likely because she took a pill she assumed was a pharmaceutical opioid.
Destiny’s image and those of other victims of the illicit drug are on billboards across the city this week.

Fentanyl has been found in knockoff Vicodin, Xanax, Oxycodone and other pills, and as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can kill an average-sized adult. First responders urge everyone to consider carrying the overdose reversal spray Narcan if someone exhibits signs of trouble – such as slow breathing, a weak pulse, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, or seizures.

Last year, fentanyl killed 225 people in Kern County and 71,000 across the U.S.