NY: County overdose response team warns of spice, other non-opioid drugs laced with fentanyl

In the wake of four overdoses Tuesday, the Oneida County Overdose Response Team is warning drug users that some non-opioid drugs may contain fentanyl, putting users at high risk for overdoses.

The overdoses, none of which were fatal, occurred in Utica, Rome and Durhamville.

Oneida Health’s emergency department has treated several patients over the last three weeks who needed large doses of naloxone to save their lives, said Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Kirby Black.

Some synthetic marijuana in Oneida County has been laced with fentanyl or other opioids, the Oneida County Overdose Response Team has warned residents.

“The trend we are seeing is that they are people who did not think they were taking an opioid,” he said in a news release. “They thought they were taking synthetic marijuana, cocaine, molly or methamphetamine. Many have been extremely close calls, some requiring admission to the (intensive care unit) for naloxone drips.”

The county’s overdose tracking software also points to a growing number of drugs laced with opioids, including fentanyl.

The mixed drugs have been an issue throughout the county, but recent reports suggest a higher concentration of them in the western parts of the county, according to the response team.

The team also noted an increase in severe illnesses and overdoses involving synthetic marijuana (or, K2, Spice or fake weed), including some victims who were revived with naloxone, indicating the presence of opioids in the synthetic marijuana, according to the response team.

“Synthetic marijuana is often contaminated with various manmade chemicals that can compound its dangerous effects, so it is extremely disturbing to see growing evidence that this product, in addition to other drugs, is also being laced with fentanyl,” said Daniel Gilmore, Oneida County director of health. “And, it is especially concerning when we know that the main drug responsible for taking lives in our community is fentanyl.”

More than 80 percent of drugs tests in the county this year show the presence of fentanyl. Last year, 70 percent of overdose fatalities were related to fentanyl.

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