Parents and siblings held pictures of family members who have died, many of them in the past year, as the drug has spread.
- The rising number of deaths from fentanyl prompted rallies in dozens of cities across this country today. And as our Jason Allen reports from Fort Worth, families are urgently trying to draw awareness to this deadly drug.
JASON ALLEN: During a year with public health attention focused on a deadly virus, these families discovered there was another growing threat.
CHRISTINA PENA: She passed away in October from a half a pill of fentanyl.
- My mom actually went back to his bedroom to tell him dinner was ready, and that's when she found him.
- He thought he was getting just a Percocet, and it ended up being 100% fentanyl.
JASON ALLEN: All part of an awareness rally in Fort Worth Friday, they are among the hundreds of North Texas families who lost someone in the past year to a fatal dose of fentanyl. The synthetic drug, often used to manufacture fake prescription pain pills, has surged in North Texas. After deaths doubled or tripled in some counties last year, they're on pace to grow again in 2021.
GINA CUMPTON: Things just have to change so much, because this is just happening so much, and it's so sad.
JASON ALLEN: Many families told us even months ago they were also unaware of what the drug was. Now they're not only trying to get the general public to take note but push back against the idea it only impacts regular drug users. Law enforcement has cautioned they are finding regular use even among children, who are willing to try something in the form of a pill.
- These cases need to be handled as a homicides and not listed as overdoses.
JASON ALLEN: It's becoming so widespread families today were not just holding signs to draw attention. They were passing out things to people, like test strips that you can use to test to see if a pill might be fake and doses of a medication that can be used to counteract the drug in an emergency.
CHRISTINA PENA: She wasn't a drug addict. This can happen to anyone's child-- anybody. This can happen to anyone.
JASON ALLEN: In Fort Worth, Jason Allen, CBS 11 News.