GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Not one, but two Gwinnett County Hispanic teenagers died of apparent drug overdoses on the same day.
11Alive learned Wednesday 19-year-old Jefferson Cruz died of what appears to be a drug overdose at a Motel 6 in Norcross on Feb. 6. The medical examiner is still investigating Cruz's death.
It was previously reported 17-year-old Rodrigo Floriano Mayen lost his life to an overdose also on Feb. 6.
Luis Andino, the youth services director at the Latin American Association believes a disconnect among schools, students, and teachers is the beginning of a problem where drug use and education may slip through the cracks.
“Typically, it’s the student having to fend for themselves because of this language barrier, so they’re stuck translating for the parent and really being the parent," Andino said.
Jessica Andrews-Wilson is the executive director of GUIDE, Inc., which stands for Gwinnett United in Drug Education, said she believes mental health and isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic are behind the increase in young people using drugs.
“More and more what we’re seeing is that young people are using drugs of varying kinds. They include alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, to medicate to maybe make them feel less alone," Andrews-Wilson said.
Andrews-Wilson stressed the importance of parents having Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, in their homes.
Also, the Georgia 911 Amnesty Law provides limited immunity against charges for seeking medical help for a drug overdose.