Fentanyl deaths on the rise in Washington State

Alec Jensen


Local news has focused on the recent fentanyl-related deaths in Washington state that have occurred in the latter portion of this year. With the recent deaths of two Skyline High School students making local news, the conversation about overdoses and opioids has become a statewide topic of concern.

The idea of a fentanyl overdose is not a new idea to some, including Pierce College student Daniel Oney.

“Actually, one of my friends just died,” says Oney.

The death of his friend was the result of a tainted heroin dose, a common way that people accidentally take fentanyl. Oney’s not alone. Kaiser Family Foundation data shows that in Washington state trends are on the rise when it comes to opioid-related fatalities.

In 2017, a reported 68 people from birth to 24 years old died of an opioid overdose in Washington state. This data was higher than previous years and trends continue to point toward more deaths in this age range. Opioids, such as OxyContin and Tramadol, continue to make national news as companies like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson face lawsuits from U.S. states for their part in the opioid crisis. The rise in fentanyl is also being linked to outside the U.S.

“As any other illicit drug that is coming into the United States, a lot of it is coming from China and some of it is coming from Mexico and some of it is coming from different locations,” said Sammamish Police Chief Michelle Bennett in an interview with New Day Northwest.

In the same interview, Bennett is asked to suggest ways that citizens can help in the opioid crisis. She answered that citizens should consider carrying naloxone, a medication that can treat overdoses in emergency situations.

“You can (carry naloxone). It’s an opportunity to save someone. We in law enforcement carry it now, and parents can carry it as well,” says Bennett.

Jeffery Schnieder, Pierce College’s district director of campus security, agrees.

“I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that,” Schnieder says, “and it’s not just for fentanyl, it’s for heroin and other opioids as well.”

Oney says he would carry naloxone if it meant saving a life. Students can carry naloxone, also referred to by the brand name “Narcan”, on-campus and use the medication on another student if they’re overdosing. Another point that Bennett and Schneider agree on is letting a staff member, like the mental health counselors, know if you know someone who may be suffering from opioid addiction.

“Basically, if you’re trying to get help or help for someone else you’re not going to be arrested because we become aware that someone is addicted to heroin,” Schnieder says.

“People shouldn’t feel like they’re going to get arrested for getting help. They should step up because if someone comes to you and says they have their heroin addiction or opioid addiction or fentanyl addiction under control, they’re lying. By definition, you can’t control that.”

Those who warn members of the Pierce College staff, as well as the police, are protected by Good Samaritan laws and will not be in trouble for telling the police that someone close to them is addicted to illegal drugs. The addicted will not be in trouble for receiving help either.

Though the opioid epidemic continues to rise, students have the power to save a life if they step in with Naloxone or step up and help those who are addicted find help. A prescription request for Narcan can be found on Narcan’s website. Anyone can purchase Narcan and some insurance companies cover the cost of the prescription.

Visit Narcan’s website at www.narcan.com/patients/how-to-get-narcan to fill out a prescription request and see pharmacies in the area that carry Narcan.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Alec Jensen

Fentanyl deaths on the rise in Washington State

by Alec Jensen time to read: 3 min