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The Rise of Fentanyl

According to the CDC, 73% of opioid overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, and that number continues to rise. The rise of fentanyl is a result of the supply making its way into the United States, which has seen a 51.54% increase in the first 8 months of 2021compared to 2020, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out about fentanyl. For example:
  • Someone cannot overdose by touching fentanyl. The effects only occur if it reaches the bloodstream or a mucous membrane.
  • Fentanyl and its analogs are not resistant to naloxone. Naloxone is effective in reversing a fentanyl overdose. However, fentanyl in the drug supply is deadly.

Anyone using illicit drugs is at risk of an accidental fentanyl overdose. This past August, Joey Eppink, whose story can be read below, experienced a fatal fentanyl overdose. In that same month, Jimmy Hayes, a well-known former NHL player had a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl in his system when he was found dead inside his home. Stories like Joey’s or Jimmy Hayes’ are not the first, but we hope to raise enough awareness so that these can be one of the last.

It is very difficult to determine if a drug contains fentanyl without testing. Fentanyl test strips can be used to test for traces of fentanyl in the following drug supplies:
  • Opioids
  • cocaine
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamines

Overdose Lifeline, through funding made available by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction and the State of Indiana, is now offering FREE fentanyl testing strips. Request your test strips here.

We’d like to thank Mary Jo, Joey’s mother, for sharing his story below:

‘My son, Joey Eppink, 22, was in his prime. He was handsome, charming, outgoing, and quick with a smile and witty comeback.

On August 24, 2021, he and two friends made a deadly decision to purchase recreational drugs and “have a little fun” after a long day at work. He chose cocaine that fateful night, unaware it was laced with a lethal amount of fentanyl.  When the police informed us, he had passed away in his apartment from a suspected overdose, it was shocking. Drug use was something we just didn’t worry about with Joey.

After Joey’s death, we wondered, “How much fentanyl is too much?” A sugar packet contains 4,000 mg of sugar. A lethal dose of fentanyl can be just 3 mg., enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.’

In honor of Joey and all the beautiful lives lost to accidental overdose, please consider testing ANY drug before use, always have the overdose reversal drug naloxone on hand, and never use alone.

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