Health Alert issued in Lincoln due to spike in drug overdoses
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln law enforcement and health officials sounded the alarm Thursday on a concerning drug overdose trend they say is “devastating our community.”
Lincoln police said there have been 141 reports of overdoses in Lincoln in 2021 with 50 in just the past month.
“Tragically four of those victims did not survive and one more is expected to die,” Lincoln Police Captain Ryan Dale said. “Even more tragically one unborn baby that was in the third trimester did not survive.”
In 2020, Lincoln had a total of 133 overdoses which was a 76 percent increase from the five year average.
“Overdoses are not new to Lincoln but the severity and the numbers are,” Lincoln Police Acting Chief Brian Jackson said.
Police are especially concerned with a new trend in Lincoln involving cocaine laced with fentanyl.
“At least 26 of the overdoses in the past three weeks have been caused by this cocaine with fentanyl in it,” Dale said.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. A lethal dose of fentanyl is equivalent in size to a few grains of salt.
Lincoln Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez said they are issuing a health alert for the city because of the spike in overdoses.
The Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department said during an overdose, breathing can be dangerously slowed or stopped, causing brain damage or death. Signs include:
- Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
- Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Choking or gurgling sounds
- Limp body
- Pale, blue, or cold skin
It may be hard to tell if a person is high or experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat the situation like an overdose and follow these steps:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Administer naloxone, if available.
- Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
- Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
- Stay with them until emergency workers arrive.
Local hotline numbers include:
- Lincoln Drug Crisis Hotline: 402-475-5683
- Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660, Hearing Impaired: 1-888-556-5117
- CenterPointe Lancaster County Crisis Line: 402-475-6695
OpiRescue is also a free overdose support tool to recognize, reverse and report an overdose.
The LLCHD urges the public to find out more about naloxone, a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Nebraska law allows bystanders to administer naloxone to save a life. An open statewide prescription in Nebraska allows friends and family of those facing addiction to use naloxone in emergencies.
Several locations in Lincoln and Lancaster County provide naloxone for free to family and friends of people who are facing addiction. Locations include: Kohl’s Rx, 808 North 27th Street, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, 5010 “O” St. and U-Save Pharmacy, 13851 Guildford St., in Waverly.
The Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition provides consumer and provider education and advocacy through collaborations in treatment, reducing stigma and prevention education. Residents can learn more about life saving measures and treatment options at lincoln.ne.gov/OD. The coalition is a group led by the LLCHD that includes community members and more than 20 Lincoln organizations.
Community health partners include: Bryan Health, CHI Health, CenterPointe, Emergency Medical Services Oversight Authority, Innovative Pain and Spine Specialists, Lancaster County Medical Society, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, Lincoln Fire and Rescue, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Police Department, Lincoln Treatment Center, MD Pain, Mental Health Association of Nebraska, Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Nebraska Medical Association, Nebraska Pharmacists Association, Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, Region V Systems, The Bridge, and Wellbeing Initiative, Inc.
Anyone with information about people distributing illegal drugs, especially in cases that led to overdoses, to call the LPD non-emergency number at 402-441-6000, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force at 402-441-8181 or Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.
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