By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Families rallied outside the historic Tarrant County courthouse in Fort Worth Friday, trying to draw awareness to the surge in deaths in North Texas connected to fentanyl.

Parents and siblings held pictures of family members who have died, many of them in the past year, as the drug has spread.

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They also handed out test strips for people to see if pills might contain fentanyl, and medication that can counteract the drug in an emergency.

Families held a rally to bring awareness to deaths related to fentanyl in North Texas (Credit: CBS 11 News)

The rally comes a week after Gov. Greg Abbott spoke about the problem when he was in Fort Worth, announcing his intent to sign a bill making manufacturing or delivery of the drug a felony offense.

Fatal in amounts as small as two milligrams, the synthetic drug is used to manufacture fake prescription pain pills, that often are indistinguishable from the real thing.

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Christina Pena said her 21-year-old daughter Angelina died in October, after taking just half of a pill.

“We need to bring more awareness in schools, out in public,” she said. “We need to just, bring awareness. Especially to our young children. They don’t understand. They don’t think it’s going to happen to them.”

Deaths connected to the drug in Tarrant County jumped ten-fold from 2019 to 2020, and are on pace to grow again in 2021.

Families were not just pushing general awareness Friday, but also the idea the drug is only impacting regular opioid users. There have been deaths in the last year in children as young as 11. Law enforcement has cautioned that children are comfortable taking something in a pill form, however with fentanyl a single pill can be enough to cause death.

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The rallies Friday, which also occurred in Austin, were organized by the Association of People Against Lethal Drugs, founded two years ago to raise awareness to the issue.