Increase in overdose deaths linked to drugs laced with fentanyl
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), over the past 12 months, synthetic opioids - primarily fentanyl - were identified in 91 percent of opioid overdose deaths and 73 percent of all drug overdose deaths. From 2019 to 2021, the number of fentanyl overdose deaths in the state grew by 97 percent.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because it is cheap to produce, people who manufacture illegal drugs use fentanyl to make other drugs more powerful. It can be added to heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, and other substances.
It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overdose. A tiny amount - as little as two grains of salt - can be enough to kill someone. The amount of fentanyl in drugs is random, even in the same supply, so fentanyl test strips are becoming more widely available and people are encouraged to test prior to use.
People who use opioids, whether as a prescribed medication or recreationally, are encouraged to keep naloxone on hand to reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available without a prescription at pharmacies around the state.
For more information, including where to find Naloxone or fentanyl test strips, contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline which is staffed by eight 211 contact centers across the state including IMPACT 211. Call 211 or text your zip code to 898211.