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Posted on: September 24, 2020

Jeffco Partners Warn Community of Increase in Fentanyl-related Overdoses

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Jefferson County, Colo. – The Jefferson County Substance Use Partnership (JCSUP) — a program spearheaded by Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) — Jefferson County Communities That Care (CTC) coalition, Lakewood Police Department and other partners across the metro region have identified an increase in fatal overdoses involving the powerful opioid, fentanyl. We want to make sure our community members, especially people who use illicit drugs, are aware of this serious increased risk and provide information on how to reduce the risk of overdose.

“First and foremost, we want to get the word out to folks in our community that our Department has found this deadly substance more and more in counterfeit pills and other illicit drugs, and people are dying when they use them,” said Sergeant Michelle Current, Lakewood Police Department and Policy & Substance Availability Workgroup chair for CTC. “It’s devastating, and we want to address this growing issue so that more lives are not lost.” 

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, 1,384 Jefferson County residents died from overdose from 2000-2019, including nearly 100 individuals last year alone. 

“This increase in overdoses related to fentanyl is alarming, and we want to make sure we are providing our community the information and tools they need to lower the risk of accidentally overdosing or dying from overdose,” said Michael Miller, Opioid Initiatives Coordinator, JCPH. “While the use of illegal drugs is discouraged, there are some important things people who use drugs as well as those who spend time with them can do to lower the risk of overdose and other harmful consequences.” 

Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication that can be present in many substances purchased anywhere other than a pharmacy, including but not limited to heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, Xanax and other common narcotics such as methamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine. It can be fatal, even in small doses.

People who use drugs should:

  • Test all of your drugs for the presence of fentanyl. 
  • Carry the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone/Narcan, at all times.
  • Only use drugs with a trusted individual who knows how to recognize and respond to an overdose.
  • Switch how you take your drugs (snort or smoke before you try injecting).
  • Use a smaller amount of a drug at a time until you know it's safe.

People who spend time with those who use drugs, such as family members and loved ones, should:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if you witness an overdose. The Colorado Good Samaritan Law protects both the person calling 9-1-1 and the user from arrest related to use of a substance resulting in an overdose.
  • Carry the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone/Narcan, with you at all times. Watch this short video to learn how to properly administer naloxone/Narcan.
  • Visit the Colorado Crisis Services if you need support for yourself or a loved one at https://coloradocrisisservices.org
  • Lock all prescription drugs in a secure location and immediately dispose of any leftover prescription drugs at a drug drop-off location.

Residents can get free naloxone/Narcan, fentanyl test strips as well as access to local substance use treatment resources by completing this online form. The JCSUP, in collaboration with CTC, is also providing free “Save a Life” kits to young adults in the county who are at risk of overdose. For more information about the kits, visit the JCSUP’s website here

About the Jefferson County Substance Use Partnership

The Jeffco Substance Use Partnership formed in 2018 to develop a community-informed and community-driven response to the rise in overdose in Jefferson County. The coalition is developed and supported primarily by Jefferson County Public Health in partnership with other state, county and local agencies, businesses, legislators, officials and community members. To learn more, visit www.jcsup.org

About Jefferson County Communities That Care

Jefferson County Communities That Care is a coalition comprised of more than 100 stakeholders, community members, key leaders and youth. Partners use a structured, evidence-based community change process focused on preventing substance misuse, sexual/relationship violence and hopelessness/anxiety among youth in our community by reducing risk factors and improving protective factors.

 About Jefferson County Public Health

Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.

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