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Fentanyl overdose deaths on the rise in Milwaukee County

Posted at 12:05 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 13:06:29-04

MILWAUKEE — New numbers show that in 2019, Milwaukee County saw a record number of drug overdose deaths.

Drug overdoses killed 418 people in Milwaukee County last year, an increase from the previous record of 401 in 2017.

75% of these deaths involved more than one substance, and 8 out of every 10 deaths involved opioids or synthetic opioids.

While the number of deaths involving heroin has decreased by 21% from 2017 to 2019, the number of deaths involving fentanyl have increased by 29% within that same time period.

In addition to an increase of drug overdose deaths, law enforcement has also seen more seizures related to fentanyl use.

Milwaukee County has several resources in place to prevent overdose deaths. Organizations are helping people who use these drugs find treatment, and the county has a review board to help fill in any gaps that may be leading to an increase of overdose deaths.

Additionally, if someone you know is struggling there are steps you can take to help. According to Milwaukee County, "Friends and family play a critical role by recognizing the signs of overdose, calling 911 immediately, and administering naloxone."

Naloxone can be found at several pharmacies without a prescription, and can be life saving if someone is going through an overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdose signs include:

  • Small, constricted pupils
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds – often confused with snoring
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

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