Push for awareness comes as prevalence of fentanyl swells in Sedgwick County, across Kansas

A push for more awareness comes as the prevalence of fentanyl swells in Sedgwick County and across Kansas.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A push for more awareness comes as the prevalence of fentanyl swells in Sedgwick County and across Kansas. Last year, data from the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center shows overdose deaths from fentanyl topped all other drug-related overdose deaths.

Center for Change in Wichita is just one of the treatment centers seeing the impact of illicit-made fentanyl’s growing prominence. A deadly dose of the powerful opioid is only about two milligrams, so little it could easily fit on the tip of a pencil.

Data from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office with drug testing from the first few months of this year shows a spike in the prevalence of fentanyl, especially because it’s so often mixed with other drugs.

“Can’t smell fentanyl, you can’t see it, you can’t taste it. It might be there and you don’t know, so, it’s important to educate patients if they notice symptoms like shallow breathing or just being disoriented,” said Sedgwick County COMCARE Addition Treatment Services Program Manager Rena Cole.

Most patients at COMCARE Addiction Treatment Services receive treatment for methamphetamine, but opioids are becoming more common with the spread of fentanyl laced in other drugs.

“If someone is unresponsive from fentanyl, reach out right away because someone (could) certainly be in a deadly situation,” Cole said.

One of the areas of concern is among teens and young adults.

That has groups like Safe Streets Wichita working on awareness and prevention. Truc Dao is a teen substance abuse and mental health advocate who describes the access to fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs as a crisis in Wichita.

“A can ask almost any friend, ‘hey, where can you find some fort of drug?’ They’ll be like, ‘here’s this, here’s that. It’s not, ‘oh, I don’t know,’” Dao said.

She said by being a high school student spreading the message of awareness resonates more than it would coming from adults or officials.

“As young people, we understand, we see the struggles of one another and we often times go through the same struggles,” Dao said.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and Wichita Police Department are working with Wichita Public Schools to help spread awareness about fentanyl. There are resources out there for people looking to get help with treatment, even for those who don’t have insurance.

Resources include, but aren’t limited to:

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