South Dakota

Fentanyl risks in South Dakota create need for awareness

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – You may have heard more PSAs about fentanyl lately. The deadly synthetic opioid has given officials cause for concern.

Fentanyl can kill in a dose small enough to fit the tip of a pencil, and it has made its way to South Dakota. The increase in circulation and deaths from fentanyl is being closely monitored by the state and federal government. Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead recently worked with the state and DEA to create PSAs like “One Pill Can Kill” to raise awareness of the drug’s dangers.

“We’re working hard to get the message across to people in our community that fentanyl is here, it’s deadly, it’s dangerous,” Milstead said. “It’s extremely dangerous in our community and it’s out on the streets.”

Locally, almost fifty percent of overdose deaths are due to fentanyl. The South Dakota Department of Social Services said that as of 2021, more than a quarter of all drug-related deaths in the state were due to fentanyl, and the number has steadily increased since then.

“It’s killing our citizens and it’s at an unprecedented level and we need to address it,” Milstead said. “We have to address it on the treatment side. We need to address it on the prevention side with PPE and try to educate the public about it. We have to tackle it on the enforcement side.”

Milstead says the US needs to secure the southern border to keep the drug from entering our communities so we can turn the corner and fight fentanyl issues. Fentanyl seizures at the border increased by more than 200 percent in 2022. Fentanyl is used in counterfeit pills, among other things.

“If you try to take a pill that isn’t from a pharmacy and wasn’t prescribed by your doctor, there’s a very good chance you’ll run into one of those pills that’s killing our residents,” Milstead warned.

The US DEA laboratory found that of the counterfeit pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten contained a lethal amount of fentanyl. Because of the impact on the community, the sheriff’s office claims they will crack down on drug dealers.

“I want to give a mild warning to our local drug dealers who think they can get rich because it’s so cheap,” Milstead said. “This is a drug that can land her in prison for the rest of her life.”

Milstead urges anyone struggling with addiction or who knows someone who is struggling with addiction to get help immediately as all it takes is one pill from the wrong source to kill. You can call 988 to find out about services and resources in your area.

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