Accidental fentanyl deaths on the rise in El Paso County

The chart shows accidental deaths from fentanyl from 2016 to 2021 in El Paso County.
The chart shows accidental deaths from fentanyl from 2016 to 2021 in El Paso County.(El Paso County Coroner's Office)
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 5:56 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 6:37 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Accidental fentanyl deaths are on the rise in El Paso County. In recent months, several tragedies involving fentanyl overdose have been reported, including three District 11 students who died after taking the drug.

The chart above is from the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. It shows accidental deaths from fentanyl from 2016 to 2021. In 2016 there were four accidental deaths. Last year, that number spiked to 102 accidental deaths. Of the accidental deaths last year, the youngest was just 1 years old and the oldest was 67.

Wednesday, Dr. Chris Urbina, a family physician, gave an update on fentanyl at a El Paso County Board of Health meeting. He says fentanyl, in some cases, is used to help control severe pain and is prescribed by a doctor. However, he says some companies around the world started to make semi-synthetic fentanyl, which is very potent. He says it’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Urbina says 1 out of 4 street drugs are now laced with fentanyl. He says there are a couple reasons why this is happening more often.

“It’s cheap. It provokes a greater amount of dependence and addiction. So you are creating new users by lacing it and it creates a little higher high,” said Urbina.

The board of health says they are working on solutions to tackle the fentanyl crisis. This includes getting community support from schools, police,the criminal justice system and other organizations in the community. Also, more education and awareness of the dangers of fentanyl, making medically assisted treatment available and coming up with drug policies that include early treatment.

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