ALABAMA (WTVM) – Concern over the increase in fentanyl-related deaths in the United States and in our local communities.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths rose 20% in Alabama and 9.7% in Georgia last year.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, illegally manufactured fentanyl enters the United States through Mexican borders. This situation is becoming increasingly dangerous as drug dealers add fentanyl to various drugs, making them deadly.
“It can make it hard for you to breathe. It can put you to sleep to the point where you can’t breathe,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be prescribed for pain, but it’s mostly used recreationally.
Recent arrests across Alabama show an increase in counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. Two milligrams of fentanyl, or 10 to 15 grains of table salt, is a lethal dose.
Lee County Chief Investigator Capt. Jimmy Taylor said the majority of overdose deaths in Lee County are due to a blue pill that replicates a legitimate prescription pill.
“If you must have medication, have it prescribed by a doctor and get it from a legitimate pharmacy,” Taylor said.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl is mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Xanax and now even weed. This results in overdose deaths involving victims who unknowingly buy and take the dangerous drug from someone on the street.
The DEA also issued a warning about brightly colored fentanyl from drug traffickers deliberately trying to create addiction by targeting young teens and adults.
Dr. Wes Stubblefield of the Alabama Department of Public Health said parents should talk to their children about the dangers.
“The effect of these drugs or medications can become more potent, which can then lead to substance abuse disorder and addiction,” Stubblefield said.
“If you’re buying drugs on the street, you’re putting your life in danger every time,” Taylor said.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has an anonymous tip line to help prevent life-threatening situations and keep the area safe.
Copyright 2022 WTVM. All rights reserved.