Tucson police raise awareness of dangers of fentanyl amid National Drug Prevention Week

Fentanyl problem rising in Tucson
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:54 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Police Department is working to get fentanyl and other potentially deadly drugs off the street in honor of National Drug Prevention Week.

The push comes as a disturbing new record of drug overdoses were reported in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people died of drug overdoses last year. That is one overdose every five minutes.

TPD Captain John Leavitt said just last year 8 million fentanyl pills were seized nationwide and more than 1 million of those pills were in Tucson. Because of the availability of drugs in Tucson, Leavitt said drugs are cheaper and that’s leading to more people using them and getting addicted.

“The best approach is for people to not start using in the first place,” said Leavitt. “There’s no safe way to use fentanyl.”

TPD said what makes fentanyl so dangerous is the irregular manufacture of the drug. Leavitt said it’s strong and extremely deadly. He said just 2 milligrams of fentanyl can kill somebody.

“The pills that most people are taking today are M30 pills. They look like an M30 oxycodone pill, but they’re not. They’re pure fentanyl. They’re not laced with fentanyl, they’re pure fentanyl and they’re laced with a binder,” Leavitt said. “If 2 milligrams of fentanyl is included in that 30-milligram pill, it’s considered a fatal dose. They’re irregularly mixed so sometimes you get 3 milligrams and sometimes you get one. You never know what you’re going to get when you take a fentanyl pill.”

TPD recorded more than 500 overdoses in Pima County last year. Around 370 of those overdoses were in Tucson. Fentanyl was the No. 1 drug associated with those overdose deaths.

Leavitt said treatment is effective and affordable in Tucson.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can find a list of resources here.

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