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Reagan Dunn announces $200,000 in funding for fentanyl overdose prevention

Summary

King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn announced on Wednesday that his funding request of $200,000 for Public Health – Seattle & King County’s “Laced and Lethal” fentanyl overdose prevention public awareness campaign was approved in King County’s mid-biennial supplemental budget that passed yesterday.

Story

King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn announced on Wednesday that his funding request of $200,000 for Public Health – Seattle & King County’s “Laced and Lethal” fentanyl overdose prevention public awareness campaign was approved in King County’s mid-biennial supplemental budget that passed yesterday.

“Illicit pills and powders containing fentanyl have flooded King County and tragically continue to claim the lives of hundreds of our residents who unknowingly consume a deadly dose of the drug,” Dunn said. “The spread of fentanyl has reached crisis levels, so I am grateful to my colleagues for recognizing the importance of working to educate folks on the dangers of fentanyl and how they can help prevent fatal overdoses in their communities.”

“Laced and Lethal” is an online education campaign that targets youth aged 14-18 through social media advertising, including downloadable resources for teens and a discussion guide for adults on how to talk with young people about the risks. An additional investment would allow Public Health to broaden the campaign to traditional media and broader age groups and educate family members on how to identify signs of drug use.

“Fentanyl, in the form of counterfeit pills, has changed the landscape of drug use in our region. In 2015, just three people died from a fentanyl related overdose in King County; that number is expected to reach 350 or more this year,” said Brad Finegood, Strategic Advisor for Behavioral Health, Public Health – Seattle & King County. “It’s important that everyone in our community know and understand that a small amount of fentanyl can be lethal. This funding will help Public Health expand the Laced and Lethal campaign to reach more people in our community with information and resources.” 

This year, fentanyl overdoses in King County have spiked to a record high, with 314 fentanyl-related deaths so far in 2021, already nearly double the 169 fentanyl-related deaths that occurred in 2020. Throughout the country, substance use has increased dramatically during the pandemic with 13% of U.S. adults reportedly started or increased substance use

“Fentanyl is increasingly claiming the lives of far too many of our community members every year as a result of consumption of illicit drugs and opioids laced unknowingly with fentanyl. I know personally from two young relatives having succumbed through overdose involving Fentanyl,” said Council Budget Chair Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “I’m pleased that the Council is responding to this urgent need and appreciate Councilmember Dunn’s leadership on this issue.”

A public safety alert issued by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in late September warned that the number of DEA-seized counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl has jumped nearly 430% since 2019, with two out of five of those pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a deadly dose.  The DEA attributes the fentanyl as the primary driver of the increase in overdose deaths as well as the increase in gun violence. Last week, the CDC announced that drug overdose deaths in the United States surpassed 100,000 in a 12-month period ending in April 2021.

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