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After son's fentanyl death, Pasco Co. mother ready to help others

Noreen Galasso hopes to support other families as overdose deaths continue to climb nationwide
Noreen Galasso WFTS.png
Posted at 8:52 AM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 11:22:52-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — For Noreen Galasso, the night of July 9, 2017, was ordinary and routine. It’s a night, however, she’ll never forget.

The next morning, she discovered that her son died in his bedroom.

“We had a pizza with his friend, and you know, we said goodnight about 12:30, and I was right across the hall,” Galasso remembered.

Nothing was out of place or unusual. But later, she learned what happened. Fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid, was found in his system.

“This truly came out of left field for us,” Galasso said, nearly five years later. “Just like having a child changes you, you know, losing one is going to change you too — pretty drastically.”

Fentanyl often contaminates or is disguised as other drugs, which means many who ingest the powerful synthetic opioid do so without knowing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illicitly manufactured fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine.

According to provisional CDC data, overdose deaths are climbing. More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, and synthetic opioids like Fentanyl were a driving force.

In Pasco County, state data shows a similar trend and a steady incline of opioid deaths between 2017 and 2020.

To Galasso, they’re numbers with names.

“I stepped off the same curb I’ve been stepping off of for years. Had the kids’ hands. Looked left. Looked right. Stepped into the street and got hit by a train, and then an airplane came down the block,” she said. “I mean it just literally blows your life apart.”

Her story is one of constant pain. But now, she’s ready to turn a page and start a new chapter. She hopes to use her grief to help other parents process theirs.

Friday, she held a rally at the West Pasco Government Center with the group the Association of People Against Lethal Drugs. She connected with several parents during that event and hopes to connect with others.

“I would love to find other people and just let them know that they’re not alone,” she said.

As Galasso knows, there are plenty of others entrapped in a crisis with no end in sight.

You can reach Galasso at