July 22, 2020: Drug Alert! Fentanyl Found in Denver: BE CAREFUL!
Fatal overdoses are increasing in Denver, especially those linked to fentanyl. A recent comparison of January to May 2019 overdose fatalities with the same time period in 2020 showed a 282 percent increase in fentanyl-related overdose fatalities.
Anyone using heroin or other drugs like cocaine, crack or methamphetamine, even occasionally, may be at risk of fentanyl-involved overdose.
Denver Syringe Access Programs (Please Contact to inquire about availability of naloxone and/or fentanyl test strips):
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Therefore, overdoses happen faster and are harder to stop. It comes in pills, pure powders, and powder mixed with other drugs. It cannot be seen, tasted or smelled when mixed into other drugs.
“To save lives, we must raise awareness about the lethal effects of fentanyl while promoting strategies to reduce harm and mitigate risk. People who use illicit drugs in Denver are at a higher risk for fatal overdose than ever before. Opioid overdose deaths are preventable, and treatment for opioid use disorder is available.”
— Robert McDonald, DDPHE Executive Director and Public Health Administrator for the city of Denver.
It is important for people who use drugs to know there are ways to reduce their likelihood of overdose:
The presence of fentanyl has led to epidemic levels of overdoses in other parts of the country, including New York City. According to NYC Health, fentanyl was the most common drug involved in overdose deaths at 57% in 2017, with no sign of decreasing.
Denver experienced 209 drug-related deaths in 2018, and as of September 2019, we have endured 77 drug-related deaths. The majority of drug-overdose deaths in Denver involve multiple substances: 64% of drug- related deaths involved three or more drugs in the deceased’s system and 28% involved five or more drugs.
Opioids include strong prescription pain relievers, such as:
Addiction is a disease. Recovery is possible and available.
Actions outlined in Denver’s Opioid Response Strategic Plan focus on preventing substance misuse, improving treatment access and retention, and reducing harm. By concentrating on prevention, removing barriers to essential support services, and making treatment more readily available, we can reduce unnecessary deaths and the impacts of opioid addiction on our community.