May 03, 2021 3:04 PM

Drug overdoses being tracked in Reno County; harm reduction hopes to help

Posted May 03, 2021 3:04 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County is tracking the drug overdoses in the county and there is some concerning data that has come out recently. County data analyst D.J. Gering notes that three overdose deaths took place in April. Two of those were caused by Fentanyl. Fentanyl is finding its way into places it never was before the last few years.

"It's being found in heroin, being found in methamphetamine," said Seth Dewey, Substance Misuse Health Educator with the Reno County Health Department. "The new killer is pills that are made to look like other narcotics that are actually fake and pressed with fentanyl."

It's important to note that a lot of addiction does not start with illegal activity.

"In some places, it's estimated up to 70% of people's addictions start after an accident or a surgery and they're prescribed a painkiller," Dewey said. "While that is important to have effective pain management, at the same time, it also poses a potential threat for addiction."

According to Gering, there have been 9 suspected overdoses since April 27th. None of those are listed as fentanyl overdoses. There is a strategy being implemented locally called harm reduction.

"First of all, we have the education of what an overdose looks like," Dewey said. "Then we try to arm them with Naloxone or Narcan, which can be sent to you through the mail through a great program through DECCA, through their Naloxone program online and also through a group here in Hutchinson called Addicts Against Overdose. If you are on social media at all around here in Reno County, you will see a lot of people putting their names and numbers out there who will respond with Naloxone until medical help can arrive."

Naloxone was used five times in April, according to the county's overdose dashboard. There have been 10 deaths recorded in the seven months of data available.