Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Fentanyl Use In Walla Walla

In Walla Walla County, fentanyl killed 14 of the 21 people who died from drug overdoses between Jan. 2022 and Aug. 2023, according to the State of Washington. It killed 1803 of the 2001 people who overdosed in Washington in 2022. Fentanyl is the main drug of concern for the Walla Walla Police Department. 

Illegal drug manufacturers mix lethal doses of fentanyl into illegal drugs to increase their high. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that seven out of 10 pills tested in their laboratory in 2023 had potentially lethal doses of fentanyl, up from four out of 10 in 2021.

The potentially fatal dose of fentanyl is two milligrams, or 0.002 grams, an extraordinarily small amount. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Fentanyl test strips and naloxone can prevent deaths from fentanyl by reducing overdoses. Naloxone (also referred to as NARCAN) is an easily-administered nasal or injectable medication that can reverse overdose and save peoples’ lives following a fentanyl overdose, if administered in time.

Blue Mountain Heart to Heart (BMH2H) is a community-based organization focused on public health.

Malia Lewis is the Drug Checking Technician and Syringe Service Program (SSP) Manager for BMH2H. She encouraged community members to carry naloxone whenever out and about because a fentanyl overdose could occur anywhere. 

“Blue Mountain Heart to Heart provides training on how to recognize opioid overdose and administer naloxone to reverse overdose to community groups and individuals through events and at our syringe exchanges. Anyone can come in and request a naloxone kit for themselves to carry, as you never really know where in the community you might encounter someone experiencing an overdose,” Lewis said in a statement to The Wire

Whitman has NARCAN available in the Security Office, the Health Center, the Sherwood Athletics Center and other places on campus. The Whitman Health Center partnered with BMH2H to stock the campus with NARCAN and train Whitman faculty on recognizing and responding to opioid overdoses.

Welty Health Center Director Laura Norris described the dangers of fentanyl in a statement to The Wire.

“Fentanyl is a highly dangerous drug that is found in street drugs and can be fatal even in small doses. It is behind the rising number of overdose deaths nationwide, and everyone should be aware of the danger of its hidden presence and avoid any possible exposure. It can be mixed in powder or liquid or pill form and is nearly impossible to detect,” Norris said.

Fentanyl is a key political issue in Walla Walla and across the country as elections heat up. 

This February, Washington Governor Jay Inslee visited Walla Walla County to discuss clean energy and fentanyl in the county. 

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