Sep 20, 2022

Overdose deaths growing problem in Buchanan County

Posted Sep 20, 2022 5:04 PM

By MATT PIKE 

St. Joseph Post 

The opioid problem is continuing to grow in Buchanan County with the number of accidental overdose deaths continuing to rise.  

St. Joseph Health Department Health Educator Stephanie Malita says this year the number of accidental overdose deaths is 26. 

"In comparison, accidental overdose deaths last year topped out at 29, and that figure of 26 is actually just through June of this year, because those types of discoveries and toxicology take a while to process," Malita tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. 

Malita says in 2020 the number of overdose deaths was at 24, while the number was as low as 15 in 2019. 

Malita says a number of those opioid deaths, are due to the drugs being laced with Fentanyl.  

Malita says she's not sure exactly when the fentanyl problem popped up on the drug enforcement agencies radar.  

"But I can tell you that data from the drug enforcement agency indicates that as many as four out of ten pills that they seize have fentanyl in them," Malita says 

Malita says about 60-percent of those drugs that were seized by the agency saw an amount of fentanyl in them that was lethal. 

Health Educator Stephanie Malita says it's important to make people aware of the problem, and it’s especially important when it comes to students.  

"Youth are at higher and higher risk that want to experiment with boundaries, like kids do, and so to get the message out to parents it's very important," Malita explains. 

She adds it’s important that parents understand the risks and are having conversations with kids about them.  

Malita says the health department has been working hard to spread awareness, even setting up at the annual city jamboree to talk to students.