OJA and ODMHSAS Collaborate to Prevent Deaths from Fentanyl

Monday, 04 March 2024 06:39

OJA and ODMHSAS Collaborate to Prevent Deaths from Fentanyl Featured

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Oklahoma City, OK – The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) has partnered with the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) to help promote healthy and safe communities by shedding light on the dangers of fentanyl.

In early December, two teenagers tragically passed away from accidental fentanyl overdose. Both youths were OJA-involved. In response, ODMHSAS and OJA reaffirm their commitment to reducing future overdose deaths by improving the health and well-being of all Oklahomans.

As of December 31, 2023, OJA has provided every OJA Contracted Group Home, Specialized Community Home, and Transitional Living Program with four packages of Naloxone and fentanyl testing strips. These placements range in population from 4-16 residents. Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center (COJC) was provided with 12 packages of each due to its population of approximately 60 residents.

On February 6, 2024, members of the ODMHSAS team facilitated training for nearly 50 OJA staff and residential service providers from across the state about the dangers of fentanyl and the proper delivery of Naloxone during an overdose event. This training was critical to maximize the impact of ODMHSAS’ distribution of Naloxone and fentanyl testing strips.

"The Office of Juvenile Affairs is grateful to ODMHSAS for their vital support in providing Naloxone and fentanyl test strips for the youth served by our system. Vulnerable young people, often unaware of the potency and prevalence of fentanyl, face significant risks when experimenting or using substances,” says OJA Chief of Staff Constanzia Nizza. “Testing can provide essential information, empowering youth to make informed decisions about drug use, potentially preventing tragedies and safeguarding their well-being. This proactive approach to harm reduction will be instrumental in safeguarding the well-being of our communities."

Fentanyl was involved in the majority of teen overdose deaths in 2021 according to national data. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl-related adolescent overdose deaths nearly tripled from 2019 to 2021. And nearly a quarter of those deaths involved counterfeit pills that weren't prescribed by a doctor.

In Oklahoma, there were 145 drug overdose deaths related to opioids for those 0 – 24 years old, spanning 2017 - 2021.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Illegally manufactured fentanyl is found in heroin, cocaine, meth, counterfeit pills and marijuana. Fake pills are increasingly common, and fentanyl may be mixed into them. Even in small doses, fentanyl can be deadly. As a result, many people may not know they're ingesting fentanyl, leading to accidental poisoning.

Recent national data shows adolescents ages 10-19, experienced a 109% increase in monthly drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2021. Deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl increased 182%. About 90% of these deaths involved opioids and 84% involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Counterfeit pills were present in nearly 25% of these deaths. Two-thirds of those who died had one or more potential bystanders present, but most didn’t provide an overdose response. Many bystanders were in another room or didn’t know that drugs were being used.

Naloxone, commonly referred to by the brand name Narcan, is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time. It comes in two forms — a nasal spray and an intramuscular injection. ODMHSAS installed twenty-one Naloxone and fentanyl test strip vending machines throughout the state, and an additional 13,067 boxes and 7,025 test strips have been dispersed. Since 2021, ODMHSAS has provided 213,528 fentanyl test kits and 427,056 Naloxone doses to Oklahomans through community programs and online orders at okimready.org.

Free Naloxone kits can be ordered from okimready.org. The site provides a range of information on finding treatment providers, prevention programs, recovery support services and additional resources.

 

About ODMHSAS:

ODMHSAS is committed to promoting healthy communities and providing the highest quality behavioral health services to individuals and families across Oklahoma.

About OJA:

The Office of Juvenile Affairs collaborates with youth, families, and community partners to create pathways for success through prevention and treatment for all Oklahoma youth.

Last modified on Monday, 04 March 2024 06:43
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