Fentanyl behind spike in overdose deaths in Iowa, officials warn

More Iowans are dying than ever from fentanyl-related overdoses, Iowa health and public safety officials say, which is why the state has launched a campaign encouraging Iowans to avoid counterfeit pills .

Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference on Tuesday, detailing the rising rates of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Iowa. The state has seen a 120% increase in overdose deaths among people under 25 since 2019, according to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

When Iowa overdoses on fentanyl, it’s often not because he’s suicidal or trying to take a high dose, Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said. Instead, it’s because lethal amounts of fentanyl are used in drugs that are sold as something else – usually, as an opioid like OxyContin.

A father opens up about losing his son to an accidental overdose

Taking a drug containing fentanyl killed 17-year-old Sebastian Kidd, who died of an accidental overdose in 2021. His parents, Deric and Kathy Kidd of West Des Moines, attended the press conference. Deric Kidd shared his experience finding his son slumped in bed on July 30, 2021.

He said his son didn’t want to die. Sebastian took half a pill of what he apparently believed to be Percocet, an opioid, not realizing it contained lethal amounts of fentanyl. If the dose had indeed been Percocet, as Sebastian apparently thought, he would still be alive, his father said.

“He was poisoned, for lack of a better term,” Kidd said.

That’s why parents need to talk honestly with their children about drug use and the dangers of fentanyl, he said. Kids are always going to challenge their parents, Kidd said, and it’s not enough to believe that your child won’t make those decisions.

“Please don’t look at someone who has lost a child and think, ‘This isn’t going to happen to my child,'” he said. “It does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter what demographic group you come from. It doesn’t matter who the parents are. Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want to feel this pain.

Reynolds responded to Kidd’s remarks with tears and thanks for sharing the story.

DCI: Four times more fentanyl pills identified so far this year

Sebastian Kidd’s death was one of many in Iowa and across the country directly caused by fentanyl in counterfeit pills. In the first half of 2022, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations has already identified four times as many fentanyl pills disguised as prescription drugs than in 2021.

Overdoses are more common with fentanyl than with other opioids because of its potency, said state medical examiner Dr. Dennis Klein. Just two milligrams of the substance can be fatal, and Klein said the drug can cause overdose symptoms seconds after ingestion.

The nationwide opioid epidemic has equipped many law enforcement agencies and health care responders with naloxone, a narcotic that can be used in emergency situations to prevent a person from dying from death. an overdose. But the drug is often less effective at stopping fentanyl overdoses, Klein said, sometimes only working for half an hour and requiring two or three doses to take effect.

In many cases, he said, people who die from fentanyl didn’t even know they were taking the drug.

“The majority of those deaths, you have to remember, were determined to be accidental,” Klein said. “The person did not intend to harm themselves, the person did not intend to die.”

The way to stop fentanyl deaths is to stop drug trafficking, Bayens said. The commissioner said many of these illicit pills containing the drug came from “pills” outside the United States, and said people who brought drugs into Iowa communities were responsible for the deaths.

Bayens agreed with Deric Kidd’s assessment of his son’s death. “He wasn’t a drug addict, he was killed,” Bayens said. “He was killed by drug traffickers. It is a violent offense. And we’re going to treat it that way here in Iowa.

The only way to ensure medications are fentanyl-free is to only take drugs prescribed by a doctor and purchased from a safe and verified pharmacy, officials said.

Reynolds encouraged those struggling with addiction and worried parents to seek help using Your Life Iowa, a free and confidential support service.

She called on the national government to act. Reynolds said President Joe Biden must secure the US-Mexico border to stop the influx of drug trafficking across national borders. She also praised US Senator Chuck Grassley’s work on the “stop pills that kill” law, bipartisan legislation imposing new penalties on the production of counterfeit pills.

Grassley and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in Washington, DC, on Tuesday on how to combat drug trafficking. “Clearly we need more tools to combat sophisticated transnational criminal organizations,” Grassley said in his opening remarks at the hearing. “We can do this by modernizing and strengthening our laws to strengthen our tools to fight drugs and money laundering.”

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