DEA Warns of Drug Dangers, ASAC Works to Combat Overdoses

A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Public Safety Alert has been released warning Americans of the increased availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

DEA has seized fake pills in every U.S. state in large quantities, where these pills are killing unsuspecting individuals at an unprecedented rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver of deaths.

Counterfeit prescription pills are easily accessible to high school and college students on social media platforms with a smartphone. Minors, young adults, and substance users believe they are buying legitimate medicine since they appear identical. However, these fake pills often contain deadly amounts of illicit drugs. A lethal dose of fentanyl is about two milligrams, equivalent in size to a few grains of salt. Just one pill can kill.

Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC), in partnership with the Linn County Board of Health Opioid Steering Committee, continues to combat rising overdose rates through the Strategic Initiatives to Prevent Drug Overdoses (SIPDO) grant. This project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal of SIPDO is to reduce drug deaths in the county by raising community awareness, conducting trainings, and implementing strategies to decrease opioid overdoses. When college students engage in substance use, the personal and academic costs can be high, leading to gaps in enrollment, lengthy time to graduation, and even failure to graduate. The College Campus strategy of the SIPDO grant involves focusing on creating a social, academic, and residential environment that supports healthy student behaviors and choices.   

ASAC staff is working with Linn County colleges to ensure access to Narcan, the life-saving reversal drug for opioid overdoses, and presenting various training options on substance use-related topics. SIPDO staff will also be identifying ways to implement policy/procedure changes to support safe and healthy college options by engaging individuals to participate in a Prevention Task Force on each campus.

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