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Health Alert: Fentanyl Present in Street Drugs, Cautions and Preventative Measures to Take to Limit Risk of Overdose

(Ithaca, NY, May 19, 2022) - The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the community about the high risk of the presence of Fentanyl in street drugs. Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic substance that is added into illicit street drugs to increase consumption but is also highly associated with risk of overdose death.

Harmful side effects of fentanyl include sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression. Signs of overdose include stupor, changes in pupillary size (pinpoint size pupils), cold and clammy skin, cyanosis (blue discoloration of the skin), coma and respiratory failure leading to death. 

To protect yourself or those you care about, the following overdose prevention strategies are recommended:

  • Never use alone
  • Use fentanyl testing strips as a precaution
  • Carry Narcan and be trained in its use
  • Seek treatment and support

Community partners provide a wide variety of services to support those in need. The Alcohol and Drug Council offers a variety of education programs, counseling services and treatment options, including Medication Assisted Treatment. Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services offers intensive residential and out-patient treatment services, as well as a specific Opioid Treatment program. Community-based support groups are available for individuals to help navigate your personal recovery, as well as for friends and families affected by their loved one’s substance use.

Multiple programs offer free Narcan training, an incredibly instrumental tool for community members to be trained to use in preventing an overdose from becoming a death. Schedule a Narcan training or request kits by contacting the Alcohol & Drug CouncilREACH Medical or the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Fentanyl testing strips are available at the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Need help finding help? Contact 2-1-1 (1.877.211.8667) for supportive referrals.

Tompkins County Public Health Director and Mental Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “We are advising the community about the risk of fentanyl in street drugs as an effort to promote harm reduction. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous. If you are buying street drugs, please test for fentanyl, carry Narcan and never use alone. If you desire to seek support to reduce your use of street drugs, please reach out for support to the program of your choice.”

Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman Shawna Black stated, “Recently, we have been hearing from families who have been impacted by drug overdose. Our hearts go out to these grieving families, and we are grateful for their willingness to be vocal about their concerns and experiences. There is amazing work being done and there are valuable resources available in our community but there is always more work and coordination to be done. Combatting the opioid epidemic remains a top priority for Tompkins County.”

Resources are readily available in Tompkins County. Learn more about local opioid statistics and additional resources online at: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/opioids.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord, salvord@tompkins-co.org

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