BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Tuesday was “National Fentanyl Awareness Day.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, being about 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.
It is an epidemic. The drug is a major contributor to overdoses and deaths across the country, as well as in the stateline.
It is an issue that city officials have been working to address with education and other resources.
“Fentanyl is, it’s a big deal,” said Jennifer Muraski, Winnebago County Coroner. “We were upwards of 165 accidental overdoses last year. We, unfortunately, do expect to see that number probably grow.”
The fentanyl epidemic has been worsening over the past five years. A day has been set aside for the second time to raise awareness about the ongoing problem.
“We have implemented programs that are focused on bringing down that overdose rate,” said Jessica Perillo, program manager for the Community Outreach Advocacy and Recovery (COAR) Team. “We continue to bring awareness. Fentanyl is a real issue in our community, and so we continue to try to work to decrease the amount of fentanyl and the amount of overdoses that we see.”
The COAR Team hosted Narcan trainings around Belvidere on Tuesday. They are also available every day of the year through the Boone County Health Department.
“Narcan saves lives,” Perillo said. “You can use it during an opioid overdose, and it can possibly reverse the overdose and save someone’s life.”
One way to combat this issue is by being aware of the dangers of fentanyl, an important step for prevention.
“Everybody should have Narcan on them. I carry it, the deputies carry it, and so, it’s incredibly important that you have that on you because you never know when, you know, it may need to be used,” Muraski said. “But, also, just educating your children and your grandchildren that this is out there, that any drug that they may choose to use, including marijuana, has or could have fentanyl laced in it.”
There are a lot of places to find help. The Winnebago and Boone County Health Departments offer free Narcan and training classes. More resources for opioid abuse can be found here.