Law enforcement weighs in on North Carolina’s fentanyl situation after 2 toddlers poisoned 

(WGHP) — Local deaths attributed to fentanyl have risen within the past decade, and mixing fentanyl into street drugs is becoming more common.

The synthetic opioid is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

The National Center For Fatality Review And Prevention examined more than 1,300 deaths of children between 1 and 17… and found 84 percent of them were accidental.

Last week, a toddler in Thomasville accidentally ingested fentanyl, and first responders administered naloxone or Narcan to revive the child.

Alamance County deputies also revived a toddler this month who ingested fentanyl.

Fentanyl can come in several forms, and deputies there say they’re seeing it more often in the form of pressed pills.

“It’s become a huge problem … because of the carnage left behind,” said Captain Craig Stephens, an investigator at the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.

Synthetic opioid poisoning is responsible for almost 15,000 deaths in North Carolina from 2013 to March 2023, according to data from how death certificates are coded in the state.

Guilford County lost 823 people during that time period with a high of 188 in 2021. Forsyth County lost 603 people during that time period with a high of 150 in 2022.

Alamance County, where Stephens works, lost 226 people with a high of 50 in 2021.

“There have been several cases where … we’ve seen methamphetamine and cocaine cut with fentanyl,” Stephens said.

Fentanyl is so powerful that the amount that fits on the tip of a pencil can be lethal for an adult and is guaranteed to be lethal for a child.

It was almost deadly this month for an Alamance County child.

“Our deputies were able to administer Narcan and render lifesaving aid before paramedics got there,” Stephens said.

All Alamance County deputies, along with thousands of other law enforcement agencies and even school districts nationwide, have Narcan on hand and are ready to use the overdose reversal tool at a moment’s notice.

“I would guarantee that most patrol officers have multiple doses in their patrol vehicle,” Stephens said.

When asked if he ever imagined law enforcement as the first line of defense in an overdose, the veteran investigator paused.

“No … It’s a lot of pressure … A lot of these guys are very strong. They take a lot every day and keep moving,” he said.

Stephens says there has been a downward trend recently in deaths from opioid poisoning, and Stephens says it’s tough to discern what’s behind it.

Again we have seen a decline, and I wish I could say why that is … Narcan is more readily available. People are more educated about it,” Stephens said.

Pressed pills, which can look just like regular pills, can contain fentanyl, and Stephens says they’re seeing more of those.

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