A spike in overdoses in North King County has health officials warning cocaine users the drug might actually contain fentanyl.
“I’ve administered more Narcan recently than you can imagine,” said Capt. Gabe DeBay, who supervises paramedics across King County for the Shoreline Fire Department.
In just the last week, he says medics went to 15 fentanyl overdoses.
“It’s not just happening on the streets. This is happening at middle-class single-family homes, people in their 20s, people in their 50s,” DeBay said.
After he revives people with Narcan, DeBay talks with them.
He’s hearing more people say they thought they were using cocaine and didn’t know they were also taking fentanyl.
“I’ve never seen the overdose problem this bad,” DeBay said.
“What we’re starting to see over the last six months to a year is a huge increase in fentanyl coming in the form of white powder,” said Brad Finegood of Public Health — Seattle & King County.
The agency issued an initial message to people who subscribed to alerts about the Shoreline overdoses and is now preparing wider warnings about fentanyl in powder form, directed toward occasional cocaine users who might not realize the hazard.
“The number of fentanyl-related deaths has really just skyrocketed,” Finegood said.
Seven years ago, three people died of fentanyl overdoses in King County.
This year, more than 700 have died.
DeBay says the fentanyl he’s seeing is now so powerful, it takes a lot more than several sprays of Narcan to block the effects.
In some cases, patients need to be hooked to IVs to get enough naloxone.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says cartels are putting fentanyl into all illicit drugs to drive addiction and increase their profits.
Officials urge people to only take pills prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacist.
Health officials recommend that people use fentanyl test strips and have naloxone available in case someone around you overdoses.
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