Opioid overdoses on the rise in Rapid City, Pennington County area

RAPID CITY, S.D.– For the first time, overdose deaths in the country have surpassed a year-long total of 100,000.

Opioid Counterfeit

Many of the deaths, fueled by opioids and in large part, fentanyl.

For Pennington County Sheriff’s Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team, officials are finding substances such as meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription drugs currently circulating in the area.

In the past few years, Pennington County Sheriff and the Rapid City Police Department have seen an increase in opioid-related deaths.

“In 2019, we believe that we had two documented accidental overdoses related to opioids in our community. So far this year, we have confirmed to have seven, and we have several other pending investigations that we’re waiting for toxicology reports,” Chief Deputy of Pennington County Sheriff’s Department Brian Mueller explained. “So, by the end of this year, we’ll have better numbers put together. But it’s exponential growth here in Pennington County and Rapid City.”

Of the more than 100,000 deaths in the country from drug overdoses, almost two-thirds in particular were related to fentanyl.

According to the DEA, lethal amounts of fentanyl have been found in analyzed counterfeit prescription drugs..

“The fact that they are lacing very real counterfeit prescription drugs with fentanyl right now. You, know, people borrow prescriptions from friends or family members, and it’s a deadly combination right now,” Mueller said. “People just need to be aware that that is a real thing in our community.”

With the increase in overdosing within Pennington County, patrol officers for the police department carry and are trained to administer Narcan.

Narcan, the company name for the drug Naloxone, blocks the effects of opiates on the brain and restores breathing function to unconscious patients.

“We are able to respond quick to these calls, so it gives us the opportunity to be first on scene, recognize the symptoms of a drug overdose, and administer the Narcan quickly,” Rapid City Police Department Patrol Lieutenant Darren Doucy said. “Often times prior to medical arriving on scene.”

For anyone that is or knows someone struggling with substance abuse or addiction, the county’s Care Campus on 321 Kansas City Street offers resources and help 24/7 for residents in need. Information on the resources and the Care Campus can be found here.

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