According to a 2022 United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laboratory study, six out of 10 fake pills seized by the DEA contained a potentially deadly dose of Fentanyl. These were some of the facts highlighted today by several statewide organizations announcing the launch of “Odds Are Alabama,” a year-long campaign to bring awareness to Alabamians on the dangers and prevalence of illicit Fentanyl.
Odds Are Alabama will not only heighten awareness of the dangers, but it will also provide critical information regarding help for those with substance use disorders, along with information about medication that can reverse an overdose and strips to test drugs for Fentanyl.
Dr. Scott Harris, State Public Health Officer, said “Alabama has seen a tremendous increase in opioid overdoses over the last several years. With about two-thirds of all overdoses nationwide attributed to synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, it’s obvious why the need for this campaign is so great.”
According to the DEA, Illicit drug manufacturers and dealers are lacing other drugs like cocaine and marijuana with Fentanyl and manufacturing fake pills that include the drug to ensure that users are hooked on the first try. Because a lethal dose of Fentanyl is only about two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of salt, it’s becoming increasingly common for users to overdose on Fentanyl-laced products. In Alabama, the number of people who died from Fentanyl poisoning more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Closer to home, Lauren Littlefield of Montgomery shared her family’s tragic story of losing her brother due to a Fentanyl overdose. “Last April, my brother being a curious 18-year-old took something given to him by a co-worker. He had no idea that what he was taking was laced with fentanyl, and by the time the ambulance had gotten to him, the damage was done. All it took to change our family’s lives forever was one pill, one time.”
“We hear from hospitals all across the state of the alarming increase in patients coming to emergency departments with a Fentanyl overdose,” said Joseph Marchant, CEO of Bibb Medical Center and chairman of the Alabama Hospital Association. “Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t make it, and those who do survive are often left with injuries that can last a lifetime. We have to find a way to let people know that if they don’t get a pill from their healthcare provider or pharmacy, the chances are very high that they are making a deadly decision.”
Echoing these sentiments, Dr. Julia Boothe, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, urged young people and their parents and grandparents to heed the warnings and to understand the dangers are real.
“Opioid prescriptions in Alabama have fallen for eight consecutive years, but a surge of illicit Fentanyl is driving overdose deaths to their highest level ever,” said Dr. Boothe. “Our message to every Alabamian is this: Never take any drug except those prescribed by your physician and filled by a pharmacist. Fake pills containing Fentanyl are everywhere in Alabama. They look identical to real medicine, but you won’t know until it’s too late. Don’t take the chance because one fake pill can kill.”
For more information on the dangers of Fentanyl and the resources available, visit OddsAreAlabama.org.
• HB208 was signed into law in 2015 and provided immunity for prescribing and administering an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone. This is commonly known as a “Good Samaritan Law”. In 2016, HB379 was signed into law, providing the State Health Officer or a county health officer the authority to write a standing order for dispensing naloxone.
• Individual/family/friend request for free Naloxone (Narcan) Nasal Spray
To receive your free Narcan kit, you will need to complete an online training Naloxone Training. After completing the training your kit will be mailed to you at the address you provide.
To access the training: https://www.jcdh.org/SitePages/Programs-Services/CommunityHealth/SubstanceUseandAddiction/NaloxoneTrainingReg.aspx
• First Responders (Law enforcement, Fire Departments, Volunteer Fire Departments, etc.) request for Naloxone (Narcan) Nasal Spray
If you are an agency that responds to emergencies involving individuals who may be at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose Email email@example.com
• Before receiving Narcan, you will need to complete the Narcan Law Enforcement Roll Call video training module. In this training module, you will learn:
• How to identify an opioid overdose and check for a response.
• Proper administration of Narcan Nasal Spray.
• How to place a patient in the recovery position until emergency medical assistance arrives.
To access the training module: https://www.narcan.com/first-responders/law-enforcement-roll-call-video
• Review and print the Standing Order of the State Health Officer Naloxone Distribution for Overdose Prevention
• Please download the Naloxone Agency Form, then open it in Adobe Reader to complete and submit. (Submit may not work in a browser window depending on your settings.)
• For replacement kits, you will need to submit the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Date/Time used
• Age/Race of recipient
• Nonfatal or fatal results
• Name and phone number of the person requesting the replacement