'1 pill can kill': South Bay mother is spreading awareness of daughter's fentanyl overdose

Lauren Martinez Image
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
South Bay mother spreading awareness of daughter's fentanyl overdose
On National Fentanyl Awareness Day, one mom is sharing the heartbreaking story of how her 18-year-old daughter died from an accidental overdose and is "here to tell you that it could be your child."

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KGO) -- Marlene Harden is sharing the story of her daughter Chloe, who at 18 years old, died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl.

"I think a lot of parents are in denial, 'not my child,' and I'm here to tell you that it could be your child," Harden said.

Chloe was born and raised in Los Gatos. Her mother said she was funny and caring. She had a passion for saving animals.

When Chloe was 12 years old, the unexpected death of her father hit her hard so she tried to numb the pain.

"You know sadly she started self-medicating with marijuana and that progressed to prescription pills that she obtained through her friends from parents form unlocked medicine cabinets," Harden said.

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Chloe started taking Xanax and eventually became addicted to Percocets. By age 15, Harden said Chloe was getting prescription drugs online.

"Through social media, Instagram, Snapchat. It was really easy for her to get and these drug dealers even delivered to our home," Harden said.

As a parent, Harden said she was naive to Snapchat and Instagram. Her daughter was linking up with people.

"A lot of the dealers after their Instagram name they have little emojis...and each emoji is for a different drug and that indicates what type of drugs that they're selling," Harden said.

Chloe went through counseling, a drug treatment program three times, and occasionally got her phone taken away. Despite those efforts, Chloe found a way.

RELATED: Fentanyl-related deaths among children increased more than 30-fold between 2013 and 2021

"Lots of times, people that don't know the dangers of fentanyl think people like Chloe go out and intentionally try to get fentanyl, and that's not the case here," Harden said.

The day Chloe passed away Harden said she ordered a Percocet through social media- it was laced with fentanyl.

"I received a phone call from her boyfriend saying he had found Chloe unresponsive and that he had called 911. And I felt paralyzed," Harden said.

Chloe was on life support for three days. Blood work revealed she had fentanyl in her system.

"That's when the reality sunk in. That she was poisoned," Harden said.

Now Harden hopes she can educate as many parents as she can.

"People are dying and they're not necessarily drug addicts or it could just take one time. One pill. One pill can kill," Harden said.

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Data published in the American Medical Association's pediatric journal on Monday said there were more than 1,500 pediatric deaths from fentanyl in 2021, over 30 times more than in 2013.

"I urge any parent anyone that can have Narcan readily available to have that on hand. It could save somebody's life," Harden said.

The DEA recognizes Tuesday, May 9th as National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

There are several community events being held in Santa Clara County. At 10 a.m. Santa Clara University unveiled a Narcan vending machine.

The Campbell Union School District will be holding community engagement events at 7 schools.

At Branham High School a community and parents education night will be held at 6 p.m.

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