DENVER – A CU Boulder student is currently fighting for his life after he took a pill to help him sleep that ended up being laced with fentanyl, according to his family.
Now, his mother is sharing his story in hopes of warning others and preventing a tragedy like this from impacting another family.
“This is just so serious. And it could happen to you, to me,” said Alicia Salcedo, the mother of 26-year-old Alex Nazar, who has been in a coma for around 40 days.
Salcedo said she never imagined it would happen to her son.
“He’s so energetic. He loves snowboarding,” she said.
While her son should be finishing up his senior year at CU Boulder, where he’s studying business administration, he’s in a hospital bed, fighting for his life after taking what he believed was Xanax (Alprazolam), back on Sept. 29, according to Salcedo.
“The situation is the uncertainty of time that he's going, if ever, to recover,” she added, saying her son hasn't woken up since.
She said her son’s roommates didn’t know something was wrong until hours later.
“It was eight to 10 hours later. And that is what caused the lack of oxygen to the brain,” Salcedo said.
As she continues to pray for her son to make it through this, she’s urging others to be more aware.
“I wanted his suffering to be, to have a purpose, to help others to be more cautious and to be aware of the situation that we're going through," said Salcedo.
She said her son is currently breathing on his own, but she doesn’t know if or when he’ll wake up.
His family has launched a GoFundMe to help pay for unexpected bills during this difficult time. Salcedo is from Los Angeles, Calif., but said has been in Denver by her son’s side ever since the incident.
Opioid epidemic in Colorado
The crisis surrounding fentanyl in Colorado continues to grow, as more than 1,200 Coloradans have died from an opioid overdose in 2021, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
The percentage of those opioid deaths involving fentanyl are up more than five times over the decade prior, figures from the state show.
The Denver Department for Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) reported 228 fatal overdoses — 146 involving fentanyl — in the first half of 2023 alone, representing a 16% increase over previous years.
Last year, Colorado passed a new law aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic. The new law not only carries harsher penalties for those who possess or distribute fentanyl, it also creates programs for addiction prevention and treatment, addresses better investigatory funding for law enforcement, and allocates funds for wider access to naloxone and testing strips.