Preventing Fentanyl Fatalities in the Red River Valley

Fentanyl overdose fatalities in America continue to increase, leaving a path of heartbreak with no sign of stopping in the immediate future. Our region has been touched too frequently with nearly 40 deaths in North Dakota from drug overdoses since the start of 2014, nine of which were in Grand Forks County.

Fentanyl is the most powerful opioid available to doctors and is intended to treat extreme pain and late-stage severe illness. Fentanyl in an illicit form is finding its way into street drugs, most commonly heroin. This illicit drug is being manufactured in covert labs and sold on the street in extremely potent forms – 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and an amount the size of three grains of salt can kill you.

Drug abusers or first time users may obtain a substance without knowledge of the potency or actual composition. This can quickly lead to respiratory arrest, and result in death from overdose.

This is not a drug issue that is targeting a specific socioeconomic class or age group. It is being abused by a wide range of individuals and is easy to obtain through hidden areas on the internet and purchased through virtual currency which is hard to track and detect. It can be disguised as other opiates like heroin or oxycodone, leaving unfortunate and unaware consumers with extremely powerful and increasingly fatal forms of drugs.

Parents are encouraged to:

  • Be involved with their children.
  • Get to know their friends and peers.
  • Understand what activities they are involved in.
  • Have conversations about the risks of prescription, over-the-counter and street drugs.
  • Check cell phones. Read text messages and review internet activity.

Fentanyl infographic

Drug incidents and overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate. Illicit Fentanyl has proven to be a serious threat to public health and safety. Stay engaged with your child and watch for signs and symptoms of drug use.

This message is brought to you by Altru Health System, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Public Schools, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Police Departments, Grand Forks and Polk County Public Health and UND Health and Wellness.

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