Wisconsin health leaders issue advisory about fentanyl-related overdoses

Fentanyl
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Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued a public health advisory Wednesday about a dramatic spike in fentanyl-related overdose deaths.

According to Dr. Jasmine Zapata, it takes a very small amount of fentanyl, just the size of two grains of salt, to kill someone.

“We take this issue very seriously,” Dr. Zapata said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to save future lives.”

But lately, there have been a lot of Wisconsin lives lost.

State health leaders announced a 97% increase in fentanyl-related overdose death from 2019 to 2021.

“Each one of these lives lost belonged to friends, students, co-workers or loved ones,” Dr. Zapata said.

A big part of the problem -- fentanyl is now being found more often in drugs like cocaine, meth and certain pills.

“The story that one mother shared was just so heartbreaking,” Dr. Zapata said. “Sharing that her son, who was on a college campus, thought he was taking percocet, and it ended up being a fake pill. It was filled with fentanyl, and he died in front of his friends.”

The public health advisory asks Wisconsinites to take action.

There are several tools available to help, such as free fentanyl test strips at pharmacies and opioid initiatives across the state.

“If you are using any substance, please use fentanyl test strips to decrease your risk of an overdose,” DHS Opioid Initiatives Director Paul Krupski said.

He said the department’s goal is to get back to pre-pandemic levels, when Wisconsin saw it’s first significant decrease in opioid deaths in over a decade.

“We know what we were doing, what we are doing, is working,” he said. “With continued expansion and enhancement of these investments, we are confident that we will turn the tide again, decreasing opioid-related deaths in our state, and more importantly, saving lives.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are resources to help.

The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline can be reached if you dial 211.

Recovery Alliance Duluth is also another recovery resource; you can learn more by clicking here.

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