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Life & Work with Juli Shamash

Source: VoyageLA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Juli Shamash.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started? I am a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. After losing my 19-year-old son Tyler to fentanyl in October 2018, I became an advocate in an effort to prevent overdoses and drug poisonings. Along with my family, we formed the Drug Awareness Foundation. We give fentanyl awareness presentations to schools, parents, religious and professional groups, as well as getting middle, high schools and universities to add lessons about fentanyl-poisoned drugs to their curriculums and orientations. We work on distributing fentanyl testing strips and naloxone in the community, get local landmarks such as Los Angeles City Hall, Staples Center and LAX to light up purple for Overdose Awareness Day, and fund billboards and bus ads to warn the public about fentanyl-poisoned drugs. I am one of the driving forces behind the legislation, SB864, Tyler’s Law, which requires every hospital in California to test for fentanyl whenever they order a standard five-panel urine drug test. A regular opioid test does not test for fentanyl as it is a synthetic opioid. On August 22nd, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB864, Tyler’s Law and it went into effect on January 1, 2023. I am now trying to find someone to sponsor the law to try get it passed nationally.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road? In the beginning, it was difficult to get schools to allow me to come and speak to the students or parents. The private schools were much more receptive than the big public districts. Now due to several recent overdoses on school campuses, the schools are finally doing more to raise awareness. I would say the biggest struggle is raising money to get billboards put up. We have very generous friends and family, so we have been able to do some bus ads and billboards, but I would love to have the money do them in every area of L.A. Another challenge now is trying to get a representative or Senator to sponsor the bill on a federal level.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do? I don’t get paid for what I do, my sole purpose is to save lives. I think what sets me apart is I will go anywhere and talk to any group about the dangers of fentanyl. I also get billboards and bus ads put up to warn the public about fentanyl-poisoned drugs. I am most proud of getting a law passed in California called SB864 Tyler’s Law that mandates hospitals have to test for fentanyl whenever they do a standard five-panel toxicology screen. Unbeknownst to many doctors. The standard urine opioid test does not pick up fentanyl because it is a synthetic opioid. This law will save lives and I am trying to get it passed federally.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us? I have learned that isolating kids is horrible for their mental health. Kids who are bored often get into trouble. Teens are social creatures and need to be around other kids. During covid, many kids died alone in their rooms from counterfeit fentanyl-poisoned pills that they purchased online from places like Snapchat. Many were trying to self-medicate for anxiety or depression.

Contact Info:

  • Website: DrugAwarenessFoundation.Org

  • Instagram: Drugawarenessfoundation

  • Facebook:

  • Linkedin:

  • Twitter: juli shamash @ilovetag

  • Other:

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