“This is the new pandemic”, officials on increase in fentanyl-related deaths in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE / KGPE) – Fresno County law enforcement, federal and state officials spoke on Friday about the increase in drug addiction cases in the Central Valley.

Officials say fentanyl abuse is targeting adolescents in the Central Valley and across the country at an alarming rate.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For this reason, officials say they have seen fentanyl disguised as drugs such as Xanax and offered to children.

It only takes a small amount of fentanyl to kill. Two to three milligrams, or about the size of five to seven grains of salt.

In 2018, there were three drug overdose deaths in children aged 10 to 20. In 2020, that number increased by 300% with 12 children deceased in this age group. Authorities have yet to determine how many minors have died from overdoses so far this year.

In 2019, there were 10 deaths related to fentanyl alone and 20 deaths where fentanyl was combined with other drugs.

In 2020, that number has increased to 34 fentanyl-related deaths alone and 32 combined use-related deaths.

If someone you know needs help with any type of substance abuse disorder, they can call 1-800-654-3937.

About Rhonda Lee

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