DEA warns about Fentanyl, opioid overdoses

DEA warns about Fentanyl, opioid overdoses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Fentanyl is fast growing to become one of the most dangerous drug on the streets.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, meaning the risk for overdose is even higher. It's also cheaper.

"We refer to it as the serial killer drug," said Brad Byerley, the DEA assistant special agent in charge for Baton Rouge.

Byerley explained that the drug can be ingested, inhaled or even absorbed through the skin. The agent also explained just a few milligrams are deadly.

Byerley said in addition to the risk of overdose by a user, the drug poses a threat to law enforcement. He said there have been several cases in other states of officers accidentally absorbing Fentanyl and becoming very ill.

The rise in fentanyl-related deaths has made headlines around the nation. While the drug has been found in the Baton Rouge Metro area, the cases are fortunately few. East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark only reported four fentanyl-related deaths so far this year.

However, law enforcement is on high alert for any signs that the drug is spreading to the Capital area as are those who work to help drug users.

No Overdose Baton Rouge is a grassroots harm reduction group. Their services include distributing Narcan, an emergency drug used to stop an overdose.

"The more of those people who are equipped with Narcan, the less overdose death we're going to see, and the more lives will be spared," said founder Logan Kinamore.

Meanwhile, the DEA is working with local law enforcement and community groups to educate the public about the dangers of all opioids which continue to plague Baton Rouge.

"It doesn't discriminate. There's no socioeconomic, racial, age, gender. It doesn't discriminate," Byerley said. 

Part of that education includes being aware of the dangers that may lie in your own medicine cabinet.  Byerley said prescription drugs often make their way to the streets as a result of break-ins or thefts.

Residents can safely dispose of unused prescriptions through the DEA's drug take-back day. The next take back day will be held Saturday, October 22.

People can find a nearby collection site by visiting the DEA's website, clicking on the "Got Drugs?" icon, and entering a zip code into the search window, or by calling 800-882-9529.

Only pills and other solids, like patches, will be accepted. The public should not bring liquids, needles or other sharps to take-back sites.

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