OCHD campaign seeks to shine light on fentanyl abuse

For the Tomahawk Leader

ONEIDA COUNTY – The Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) recently launched a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers related to fentanyl use.

In a release, OCHD said fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise in Wisconsin.

“In fact, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were identified in 73% of all drug overdose deaths in the last year,” OCHD stated. “Oneida County is no exception. The county has seen an increase in fentanyl-related harm.”

OCHD said partners of the Community, Outreach, Prevention and Education (COPE) Coalition want to grow community awareness around synthetic opioids.

“We all can play a role to support healthy communities, support recovery, reduce harm and prevent deaths,” OCHD stated.

Fentanyl is hard to detect and is much more potent than other opioids, according to OCHD.

“A tiny amount, as little as two grains of salt, is enough to kill someone,” OCHD said. “It is being made illegally and mixed with other drugs, including stimulants like methamphetamine.”

OCHD said fentanyl is also being pressed into counterfeit pills, noting that a person may think they are using one substance, but are instead using a substance mixed with fentanyl.

“Substance use is a complicated and evolving problem,” OCHD stated. “Groups in Oneida County are already working on efforts to address the concerns locally and we need the community’s help to make an impact.”

“Knowing the facts about drugs and how they impact people and communities is the first step toward preventing and reducing substance use harm,” said Mary Rideout, Director of the Oneida County Department of Social Services. “Talking to your kids and loved ones about substance use helps keep them and our community healthy and safe.”

OCHD highlighted several actions that can be taken to be part of the solution and help address this issue:

  • Visit the Dose of Reality (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/opioids/index.htm) website to learn more about fentanyl and harm reduction strategies.
  • Talk to your loved ones. Real Talks Wisconsin (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/real-talks/index.htm) can support you in learning how to have open, honest and caring conversations about substance use.
  • Look out for changes in loved ones attitudes and behaviors that could indicate a more serious problem. Let them know that you are there for them and help is available.
  • Ensure that prevention education addresses counterfeit pills and the risk of fentanyl mixed into drugs that do not come from a pharmacy.
  • Learn the signs of an opioid-related overdose.
  • If someone you live with is using substances, keep NARCAN® on hand and learn how to use it.
  • Safely dispose of unused meds at one of Wisconsin’s permanent drug drop boxes. Find a collection site at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/opioids/permanent-drug-drop-boxes.htm.

To learn more about OCHD, visit www.publichealth.co.oneida.wi.us/.

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