Fentanyl top killer drug in Omaha-area overdoses

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Final yr, for the primary time, extra Douglas County residents died of fentanyl overdoses than from some other drug.

In 2020, 49 of the 83 individuals who died of drug overdoses in Omaha’s house county had the artificial opioid of their system, the information exhibits. That’s up from simply three fentanyl deaths in 2016.

The only-year soar from 11 fentanyl deaths in 2019 to 49 in 2020 — 345% — worries the coroner and prime prosecutor in Nebraska’s most populous county, Douglas County Legal professional Don Kleine.

“It’s a large enhance,” Kleine instructed 3 Information Now Investigators on Thursday. “And the pattern continues. We don’t have all of our numbers for 2021, however that’s persevering with to extend.”

Use of the drug spurred a rise in overdose deaths total, from 37 in 2016 to 83 final yr. One other 65 native overdose deaths got here from a combination of medication, a few of which probably included fentanyl, he stated.

Kleine stated a doctor working for his workplace began combing via Omaha-area drug overdose deaths in April after noticing a rise within the variety of toxicology experiences displaying fentanyl.

Kleine shared the overdose demise statistics with 3 Information Now Investigators this week following questions for final month’s story on the risks posed by lookalike prescription tablets with fentanyl in them.

Learn more: Lookalike pain meds on the black market increasing accidental overdoses

“This drug is a monster,” he stated. “Though these numbers are horrible, they’d be even worse however for NARCAN and the primary responders and the usage of that drug to carry them again.”

Omaha Fireplace and Rescue had seen a major spike in unintentional overdoses. Its crews had been reviving extra individuals who stated they thought they have been taking quantities of medication they might deal with.

Individuals who deal with dependancy, and a few who’ve fought it personally, stated folks making an attempt to stop have been stunned by the efficiency of what they thought have been black market Oxycontin ache tablets or Xanax.

Shelley Barker, a peer assist specialist for Centerpointe’s Campus for Hope in Omaha, stated fentanyl has made even searching for drug therapy more durable by making withdrawal signs worse.

“What goes via my thoughts is that they’re fortunate to be alive,” she stated. “There’s simply there’s a lot on the market laced with fentanyl proper now, that it’s unhappy.”

Dr. Kenneth Zoucha, who trains the subsequent technology of dependancy specialists on the College of Nebraska Medical Heart, stated fentanyl is being combined into extra medication as a result of it’s extra addictive.

“It solely takes utilizing it as soon as, twice, 3 times for folks to really feel how highly effective the euphoric impact is from that after which to wish to really feel that manner on a regular basis,” he stated.

Zoucha recommended that individuals who wish to search assist name their physician. He stated most medical doctors will refer sufferers to counselors and different therapy suppliers.

Kleine, like a number of legislation enforcement sources 3 Information Now spoke with final month, stated folks must know they will’t make sure what’s within the illicit tablets they’re shopping for on the road.

“The chance is excessive,” he stated. “All they must do is go to our post-mortem suites and see the physique mendacity on the desk, and the toxicity outcomes or toxicology outcomes displaying it’s fentanyl.”

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