Reno, NV. April 19, 2021. Fentanyl-related deaths have more than doubled in Washoe County over the past year. Five years ago, fentanyl-related deaths were nearly unheard of locally. While the east coast saw a surge of deaths due to fentanyl and its analogs, Washoe County had very few cases locally and regionally. However, fentanyl abuse has made an alarming incursion into our community in recent years. Statistics began creeping upward in 2016-2017, as deaths due to fentanyl-abuse became more common.
Due to these startling statistics, the Washoe County Human Services Agency, Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, Washoe County Health District, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Nevada Department of Public Health, Nevada State Opioid Response, and the University of Nevada are collaborating on a county-wide campaign to raise awareness about the consequences of fentanyl abuse in our community.
Someone suffering from a fentanyl overdose could exhibit the following:
A person’s lips immediately turning blue.
Gurgling sounds with breathing.
An uncommon onset of snoring or more pronounced than usual.
Foaming at the mouth or nose.
Confusion or strange behavior before the person becomes unresponsive.
Fentanyl is often hidden in drugs. People believe they may just be buying a pill for recreational drug use, but if laced, the effects could be lethal. Opioid overdose can be overturned with naloxone. Knowing how naloxone works, carrying it, and telling everyone you know about it, could save lives. It is also important to know, due to the potency of fentanyl, more than one dose of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose.
For more information on naloxone training and distribution sites, head to www.Nvopioidresponse.org. For information on the Good Samaritan Law, head to https://www.nvopioidresponse.org/good-samaritan-law/
“Our community needs to be aware of this extremely potent opioid, which may be in powder or crystalline drugs, alone, or mixed with heroin or methamphetamine; or may even be sold in pressed pills, masquerading as less potent opioids, like oxycodone,” said Washoe County Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Knight. “The difference is lethal, as fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, and can kill individuals who are tolerant to prescription opioids or heroin.”
Below are links to websites, with more information about opioid disorders, treatment and intervention: https://behavioralhealthnv.org/get-help/
Fentanyl-related deaths in Washoe County for the last 5 years
2020 – 55 *2020 numbers are preliminary and may increase*
2019 – 25
2018 – 10
2017 – 21
2016 – 7
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Source = Washoe County