Minnesota mother travels to New York City in order to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl

Losing a son to fentanyl

Losing a son to fentanyl

At her Hastings home, Bridgette Norring keeps a scrapbook, filled with photographs and memories of her son Devin.

A life taken too soon.

“Devin was the laughter of our family, he was so much fun,” she says quietly. “He was the prankster; he was the jokester. I’m going to miss that.”

Norring calls April 4, 2020, the worst day of her life, when her family learned that Devin, who was nineteen, passed away after taking what he thought was the painkiller Percocet.

The family learned later it was a fatal dose of Fentanyl.

“We couldn’t understand what happened. Here’s this healthy 19-year-old, gone,” Norring says. “So, they brought a Percocet, a person delivered it right to my house, unbeknownst to us.”

What concerns her as well, is that she believes Devin used a social media platform to buy that pill, from another young person.

“I think there’s a trust level with these kids,” Norring explains. “’Maybe it’s my friends, my friend is not going to do that.’ These kids have to know that any pill right now, any illicit substance can contain fentanyl.”

It’s a message she and other parents took to New York City’s Times Square on August 21st.

The date was declared National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day.

“We took over Times Square,” Norring declares. “We handed out Narcan to passersby, we educated people walking by.”

She says the group spoke out about the dangers of fentanyl and explained to people that Narcan can counteract the effects of an overdose.

“There are so many people who are dying, and the addiction rate is skyrocketing from this drug,” notes Andrea Thomas, the co-director of ‘Voices of Awareness,’ a Colorado-based parents’ group. “It is not right that people are vanishing before our eyes and we’re not giving it everything we have to combat the problem.”

Thomas also travelled to New York to speak to citizens and reporters there about the dangers of fentanyl.

She says in 2018, her daughter Ashley, 32, unknowingly took a pill containing a fatal dose of the drug, after suffering from pancreatitis.

“So that’s our biggest warning, don’t take anything that’s not prescribed to you or purchased in a legitimate pharmacy,” Thomas says. “Because just half a pill took my daughter’s life.”

In Minnesota, the numbers are sobering.

The state health department says in 2019, there were 296 fentanyl-involved overdose deaths.

Preliminary figures from 2022 show that number has risen to 947.

“Every one of those persons, that’s a life lost,” says Mary Delaquil, an MDH epidemiologist. “It’s a loss to our state, it’s a loss to friends, family, and community.”

She notes that most people don’t even know what’s in the pills they’re taking.

“Fentanyl is very cheap and that it’s in most things that people buy illicitly,” Delaquil explains. “And it’s very potent, and the likelihood of it causing a death is pretty high.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Omaha division covers Minnesota and the surrounding states.

A spokesperson says in 2021, the DEA seized more than 2-million deadly doses of fentanyl in our region alone.

That climbed to nearly 6-million last year.

This Thursday, on International Overdose Awareness Day, there will be a public remembrance for those who’ve lost their lives to fentanyl.

It will be at the Confluence Hotel in Hastings, starting at 6 pm.

Norring, who has started a foundation to honor her son, says she hopes parents will take action to protect their children.

“Talk to them about what they’re seeing on social media. Be aware, ask questions,” she says. “It’s easier said than done, but just have that conversation. We are losing a multi-generation of kids when you sit down and think about it. When my son died, his future generations died.” You can find out more information about Voices for Awareness at THIS WEBSITE.  

There’s information about the Devin J. Norring Foundation at THIS SITE