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Fentanyl and opioid overdoses surpass heroin overdoses in Missouri

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jefferson City has been corrected to Jefferson County

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services unveiled its new drug overdose database. Overdoses are now the leading cause of death among adults aged 18-44 according to DHSS.

Jefferson County is the second on its list for overdose mortality ranks, behind St. Louis County. Jefferson County had 279 overdoses in 2020, and 41.27% mortality rate. In Boone County, there were 67 overdoses, with a 12.33% mortality rate.

Potent non-heroin opioids such as fentanyl are now the primary killer. From 2018-2020 there has been 1,590 non-heroin opioid-related death's in the 25-44 age group.

The DEA's website says that fentanyl is 50% more potent than heroin, and is 100% more potent than morphine.

The Boone County Captain, Brian Leer, said that they are seeing fentanyl being laced with other street drugs.

"We are finding it's being used to lace or cut other products," Leer said that most fentanyl-related overdoses in Mid-Missouri are due to people taking other drugs, like heroin or ecstasy, and it's being laced with fentanyl.

"We run into that because it's so potent, it's very very strong, in comparison to like morphine and heroin," Leer said that most fentanyl-related overdoses are accidental.

Leer said that they have found that when they talk to drug addicts they are telling the sheriff's department that they or their family members are caring Narcan on them because they are aware that the drug that they are addicted to may be laced with fentanyl.

"We've come across it several times recently where either the user, or their family, or their friends have Narcan with them because they know because they know there is a possibility," Leer said that it's because they understand the risks, and they know that their only chance to survive it is to have Narcan.

"We have to do what we can do to try to curve it." Said Leer "I think every little bit helps, and holding them accountable helps, I don't know if it will stop it," Leer said that the Boone County Sheriff's Office will continue to pursue dealers and work to make cases against them. Leer did say that it's hard because dealers do take advantage of addicts to earn money.

Leer said that "you never know what you are going to get." when purchasing drugs on the street.

The Missouri Overdose Rescue and Education (MORE Project) has resources that can help give people lessons on how to administer Narcan, and locations on how to get free Narcan. Leer said, "there's plenty of places out there for help, I would strongly encourage anybody that's battling an addiction to seek help."

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.

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