Johnson County Prevention and Recovery Coalition launches You Never Know campaign to fight rising harm from fentanyl among young people in Johnson County

You never know | You need to know about fentanyl |

On Wednesday, the Johnson County Prevention and Recovery Coalition launched You Never Know, a new digital media campaign to address rising rates of fentanyl use — both intentional and accidental — among young people in Johnson County.

Through a variety of content on social media channels and streaming platforms, the campaign will reach the age group most prone to experimentation and risky behaviors and raise their awareness about the dangers of illegally made fentanyl and fake pills while also providing education for concerned peers, parents and community members.

Opioid and fentanyl use among teens and young adults continues to rise in Johnson County. In 2020, only 7.5% of teens entering treatment at Johnson County Mental Health Center’s Adolescent Center for Treatment reported using opioids, but that number has risen sharply ever since to 18% in 2021, 35% in 2022 and now over 50% in 2023. An influx of fake pills, often provided by friends or sold through social media, only heightens the risk of that drug use for Johnson County’s teens and young adults. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 7 out of 10 fake pills contain deadly amounts of illegally made fentanyl, a statistic featured frequently throughout the campaign.

Libby Davis, the founder of Keepin’ Clean for Coop, has dedicated her organization’s advocacy efforts to making the community more aware of the dangers of illegally made fentanyl and fake pills. Libby’s 16-year-old son, Cooper, died in August 2021 after unknowingly taking a pill made with fentanyl. She says the new campaign addresses a long-time need in the community.

“When we lost Cooper, there was no public awareness regarding the dangers of illegally made fentanyl and fake pills. From that moment, our number one priority was to raise awareness, and our dream was to develop a PSA to reach teens and their families,” said Davis. “Public awareness remains low, which is why we’re so excited to launch this media campaign in partnership with the Johnson County Prevention and Recovery Coalition. Our dream is finally becoming a reality, and our hope is it will save countless lives and keep numerous families intact.”

In addition to being a coalition member, Davis’ Keepin’ Clean for Coop is also providing financial support for the You Never Know campaign. Additional funding is provided through Johnson County’s opioid settlement funds.

Another priority of the campaign is combatting common misperceptions about opioid and fentanyl use among teens and young adults. Whereas peer and societal pressures may make them feel like opioid and fentanyl use are common for their age group, the opposite is true. According to recent data from Song for Charlie, a national nonprofit raising awareness about the dangers of fake, fentanyl-containing pills, 89% of 13-25-year-olds think it is risky to take a pill without a prescription, and 80% of them say they are not likely to use pills without a prescription in the future.

Sierra Wright from Johnson County Mental Health Center, which led the formation of the coalition in 2022 and is a partner for the You Never Know campaign, says highlighting those positive social norms is an important component in this battle against youth opioid and fentanyl use.

“Data about youth substance use is often presented as how many or what percentage of young people are using substances,” said Wright. “A social norms approach takes those same statistics, but flips the way they’re presented to highlight positive behaviors and healthy decisions and say to young people: the majority of your peers know fake pills are dangerous and don’t use them.”

“That can be a powerful way to break the misconception that taking fake pills is common for teens and young adults,” she said.

You Never Know was created in partnership with Overflow, the same creative agency that partnered with Johnson County Mental Health Center and local school districts for the teen suicide prevention campaign, Zero Reasons Why. Overflow is a Kansas City-based storytelling and idea adoption agency.

For teens, young adults, parents and community members, the campaign also provides important information like how to recognize the signs of an overdose, what to do if someone is experiencing an overdose and where to get naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

You can learn more about You Never Know and see content from the campaign by visiting or following Johnson County Mental Health Center on Facebook and Instagram.

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