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Fentanyl-laced street drugs: A deadly, hidden threat

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:08 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Local law enforcement agencies are issuing a warning to those using street drugs: Your next ‘hit’ may contain an unexpected, but deadly dose of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. Fifty to 100 times more powerful than morphine, it’s medically approved for treating severe pain. In the illegal drug trade it has emerged in recent years as a growing and often hidden threat. It’s used to increase the effect of other drugs increasingly with deadly results.

“From January 2021 to September 2021, 201 overdose related deaths in Washoe County alone,” says Washoe County Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Zirkle, “Fifty four of those deaths were fentanyl related.”

It’s often shown up in counterfeit prescription pills, but recently it’s been showing up in common street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine. This latest trend, says Zirkle, is particularly worrisome.

“People are out there believing they are using street drugs that they’ve been using for many years and they might wind up with a batch that’s been laced with fentanyl causing an overdose death.”

Zirkle says most fentanyl comes through our southern border. A small amount can boost the high of a batch of another drug. So, for the habitual user each hit is a little like playing Russian Roulette. something for which they and their loved ones should be prepared.

“If you are a drug user or you know a drug user or a loved one is addicted to drugs, just be aware that you can get Narcan or Naloxone which is a drug that’s used that’s used to counteract the effects of opioid overdose. If you don’t use this naloxone or Narcan quickly you can die from what you believed was cocaine or methamphetamine.”

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