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Health News Florida

Doctor warns Jacksonville's city council about an uptick in fentanyl overdoses

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl. Adderall, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and vape liquids are all substances people have taken that were either laced with or replaced by fentanyl, resulting in a deadly overdose.

A special committee from the Jacksonville City Council warns that the uptick in overdoses comes from fentanyl-laced products, often leading to death.

Just one pill can kill.

That was the message emphasized by Dr. Raymond Pomm when he spoke Thursday at a special Jacksonville City Council committee on drug overdoses and mental health.

Overdoses have been on the rise in the past few years throughout the country, despite a significant decrease in opioid prescriptions.

"There has to be an educational push," Pomm said. "They're taking pills that look like opioids; they're taking pills that look like Xanax. It's fentanyl. They're dying from fentanyl."

Pomm works as the chief medical officer for Gateway Community Services, a nonprofit that treats substance abuse. He also works with City Council on Project Save Lives, an initiative to engage overdose victims to prevent relapses and recidivism.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reported 315 deaths from overdoses this year, as of Wednesday. Last year, 317 people overdosed between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1.

While a majority of those are considered opioid-related, that's due to how the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department reports overdoses. If a patient responds to or is revived by naloxone treatment or a narcan nasal spray, it's considered opioid-related.

That can be misleading, Pomm said. Though fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, many overdoses from the drug are accidental, as victims are unaware of its presence when using other drugs.

"You think you're taking cocaine. Today, it could be fentanyl and you're going to die."

Pomm warns residents, particularly young adults, about the dangers of purchasing street products that can be laced with the super-addictive substance.

Adderall, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and even e-liquid for vapes are all substances people have taken that were either laced with or replaced by fentanyl, resulting in a deadly overdose.

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