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Fentanyl-related deaths in Wash. on the rise in 2018

Fentanyl-related deaths in Wash. on the rise in 2018 (File Photo)

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Health officials say the number of overdose deaths related to fentanyl in Washington is on track for significant increase this year compared to last.

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 81 deaths linked to fentanyl use in the first half of 2018. During the same time period last year, there were 48 deaths.

Health officials said illicit fentanyl has been found in a variety of counterfeit pills made to look like prescription drugs. It has also been found in white and colored powders, and could potentially be in any illegal drug.

The DOH cautions fentanyl is 30 to 50 times as strong as pure heroin, and a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be deadly to an average-size person.

Public health officials are urging people who use opioids to seek treatment, and take the following actions to help protect themselves from an overdose.

  • Seek treatment from the Recovery Helpline. Information is a confidential phone call away at 1-866-789-1511.
  • Carry naloxone. Locations that provide naxolone in Washington can be found here.
  • If you witness an overdose, call 911, give naloxone and do rescue breathing. Fentanyl may require multiple doses of naloxone to restore breathing. The law (RCW 69.50.315) says neither the victim nor persons assisting with an overdose will be prosecuted for drug possession.
  • Never use drugs alone.
  • Be careful about using too fast as fentanyl is fast-acting and deadly.

Steps being taken to reduce overdoses can be found at the state Opioid Response Plan.

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