AUSTIN (KXAN) – The family of University of Texas student and Texas Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger have said the 20-year-old’s death in May was due to an accidental drug overdose.
In a statement sent Thursday, the Ehlinger family said they learned that Jake accidentally overdosed on May 6 of what is believed to be prescription anti-anxiety drug Xanax containing fentanyl. These types of counterfeit pills are seen more and more often in Texas and across the country.
In a statement, the family wrote:
“As our family continues to deal with Jake’s death, we felt it was important to share these details in the hope that Jake did not die in vain. We pray that sharing Jake’s story will help shed light on this issue and prevent other families from so tragically losing a loved one.
Ehlinger is the brother of former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year. Jake was a walk-in linebacker for the Longhorns after graduating from Westlake High School, where he received an All-State Honorable Mention and named the District 25-6A defensive MVP as a senior.
Ehlinger’s father died in 2013 while swimming in a triathlon in San Francisco.
Counterfeit pills in Texas
Fentanyl overdoses are skyrocketing as drug dealers increasingly squeeze the dangerous drug into tablets resembling common pain relievers like Xanax and OxyContin.
Fentanyl is an opioid that can both be prescribed legally for conditions such as chronic pain and cancer, but it is also produced illegally for recreational purposes. It was established in Belgium in 1960 by Dr Paul Janssen, founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica – now owned by Johnson & Johnson.
The drug is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be up to 60 times more potent than heroin, according to the DEA.
Most of the illegal products come mainly from Mexico, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. In the street, we can call her “China Girl”, “China White”, “Dance Fever”, “Poison” and “Tango & Cash”.
The DEA says a lethal dose of fentanyl can be as low as two milligrams, depending on the user’s body size, tolerance and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for over 73% of all opioid-related deaths in 2019, including over 36,000. In addition to regular fentanyl, a host of new drugs similar to it have emerged , especially acetylfentanyl and carfentanil. Although some of these similar drugs are less potent than fentanyl, some of them are even more potent.
Carfentanil is the most potent of the fentanyl analogues, reports the CDC. It can also be up to 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
While fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, carfentanil can be up to 10,000-times more potent than morphine. DEA says a two-milligram dose of carfentanil, which is typically used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large mammals, can be fatal. Visually, a lethal dose of carfentanil can be smaller than a pea.
Heroin is also associated with fentanyl and carfentanil, which adds to the already deadly possibilities of heroin.
Last year, Austin police reported that at least five overdose deaths in April were due to counterfeit fentanyl-based Oxycodone and Xanax pills. Recently, officers from the Austin Police Department received funding to transport Narcan, the drug that treats a person suspected of having an opioid overdose.
This is a developing story.