Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Opioid-related deaths in Syracuse spike due to growing sales of fentanyl-laced drugs

 The main entrance to the Syracuse Community Health Center.
Different colored fentanyl pills are confiscated in bags by the DEA.

Opioid overdoses in Onondaga County continue to happen at alarming numbers, with 14 or more overdoses within a 24-hour period in recent days.

The Onondaga County Health Department reported 2022 is following the trend of increased overdoses of opioids seen over the past two years. But now there’s a new problem growing: People are unassumingly purchasing fake pills laced with the potent drug fentanyl.

Mental Health and Substance Use Initiative Program Coordinator Mariah Senecal-Reilly said cases show the pills contain fentanyl and even methamphetamine.

“Fentanyl is a very very strong synthetic opioid so when somebody gets something that they’re unaware that that’s in, like those manufactured counterfeit pills, they’re not prepared for the potential of it being very potent and potentially experiencing an overdose,” Reilly said.

She adds that cases have shown buyers think they’re buying oxycodone, hydrocodone, or amphetamines.

The county health department said some users might be mixing synthetic opioids with other illegal drugs like cocaine, which affect the brain and lead to changes in heart rate and can even cause strokes and heart failure.

Senecal-Reilly said the fake drugs are purchased online or locally.

She encourages people to get free testing kits before they use pills to see if they contain fentanyl.

“What we hope that people will do with this information is if there is fentanyl present in a substance, they may choose to use a different batch, they may go slower or use less, make sure that they are around someone that they’re not using alone,” Reilly said.

She said hopefully users will take advantage of the free testing kits or the people looking after them will have Naloxone on hand.

To request either by drop-off or by mail, text the health department at (315) 418-5365.

They are also available through ACR Health or any pharmacy.