Opioid overdoses on the rise in Eau Claire County

Opioid overdoses increase in the Chippewa Valley
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:30 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Health experts said the opioid epidemic continues and overdoses are on the rise throughout the state.

Public Health Specialist, Sarah Dillivan-Pospisil, said that in Eau Claire County opioid misuse is growing and fentanyl may be at the heart of the problem.

“We’ve heard an increase in fentanyl within our community as well as across the state. Last year, in 2022, there were 106 opioid related non-fatal overdoses that happened within our county,” Dillivan-Pospisil said.

One reason for the increased presence of fentanyl related overdoses is that just two milligrams is considered a potentially lethal dose, and it is often mixed with other drugs.

“Fentanyl, it is a very strong or potent opioid. It only takes a small amount to overdose. Fentanyl is something you cannot see it. You cannot smell it. You cannot taste it. So an individual who is currently using drugs might not know that fentanyl is in their product,” Dillivan-Pospisil said.

Because of the growing concern, the health department is fighting against opioid misuse.

“A tool that’s available within our community, are fentanyl test strips. So an individual could test their product to see if fentanyl is in it. In Eau Claire County, we have twelve locations where you can safely dispose of medications,” Dillivan-Pospisil said.

The health department will also be holding an opioid overdose prevention workshop on Thursday night.

“We just want to provide additional education to community members about what is fentanyl, what are the dangers and what can community members do about that,” Dillivan-Pospisil said.

Participants of the workshop will learn how to recognize and respond to a potential opioid overdose.

“We’ll provide education on what are the signs of an opioid overdose and how to administer Narcan if it is needed in an emergency situation,” Dillivan-Pospisil said.

Besides the workshop, other ways you can prevent an overdose is by using a lockbox for opioid medications, disposing of unused or expired meds, or finding local support groups and treatment resources in the Chippewa Valley.

To register for the What Do You Know About Opioids? Workshop, click here. For a list of safe medication disposal locations or resources on opioid overdose treatment and prevention visit the Alliance for Substance Misuse Prevention website.