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People dying over overdoses in Pima County at record pace

Fentanyl Opioids CNN
Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 12:26:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — An earlier version of this story including an incorrect percentage of year-to-date fentanyl deaths in the county.

Pima County is on pace to set a record for deadly overdoses for the third straight year.

Through June, the county confirmed 245 deaths and is expected to surpass 500 deaths in 2021 due to a lag in confirmation.

Of the 245 deaths, 57 are from Fentanyl.

"Generally speaking, young people tend to have a limited understanding of health risks, and are prone to engaging in risky behaviors, which often include experimenting with drugs," said Mark Person, CMHA Program Manager, in a statement.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine or heroin. Fentanyl is regularly found in counterfeit pills and laced with other drugs in our community.

Deadly opioid overdoses have hit people 19 and under particularly hard.

"This makes fentanyl in particular extremely enticing to young people compared to other drugs, due to how cheap, accessible, and potent it is. For these reasons, Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among kids 19 and under, in our community. It’s usually in the form of a counterfeit blue pill that contains an unpredictable dose, making it impossible to know whether or not the person will experience a high or die,” Person said.

The county recommends Naloxone, Fentanyl test strips and Narcan to help addicts. A national helpline is available at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is recommending that the Pima County Board of Supervisors allocate $250,000 to replenish the county's depleting supply of Narcan, a drug that can reverse overdoses.