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Denver sees increased demand for free fentanyl testing strips, naloxone

Around the time five people died of a suspected fentanyl overdose in Commerce City, the demand went way up.

DENVER — In September, the city of Denver started a pilot program to give residents free naloxone -- the drug that reverses the effects of an overdose -- and fentanyl testing strips. 

According to Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment, they received several hundred forms between September and mid-February. 

Around the time five people died of a suspected fentanyl overdose in Commerce City, the demand went way up.

Marion Rorke, the Substance Use Resource Coordinator at DDPHE, said the department got around 3,000 forms within two weeks.

"I am astonished and really happy about the awareness of it and folks are willing to receive these resources to help themselves or people in their communities to prevent fatal and nonfatal overdoses," Rorke said. 

Now, through one form, residents can decide to receive naloxone, testing strips or both. This resource is one of many in the city to combat the number of overdose deaths as Denver records a higher number of fentanyl overdoses. 

The coroner's office in Denver said nearly half of drug-related deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl, which is up from around 25% in 2019.

"People want to support their community and want to make sure they have everything they can possibly have to make sure someone doesn’t die," Rorke said.

RELATED: Naloxone has been used thousands of times to save Coloradans from overdoses

RELATED: Colorado Health Network sees demand increase for fentanyl tests, prevention services

RELATED: How to get Narcan in Colorado

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is also present in smaller communities. The San Miguel Sheriff's Office said deputies found a pure batch of fentanyl at a crime scene recently. 

According to the sheriff's office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab confirmed the batch was not cut with other drugs.

Credit: San Miguel Sheriff's Office

"We felt compelled to send out a warning to our community that this was circulating in the county," said Susan Lilly, a spokesperson for the San Miguel Sheriff's Office. "We don't know exactly when it came in. We think it's been a month."

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration said two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a potentially lethal dose. Deputies in San Miguel County found baggies of it. 

"It is scary for parents, as a community, that this could be out there and people could use it and potentially die, probably die," Lilly said.

The San Miguel Sheriff's Office is asking that anyone who recognizes this packaging or has any information about the source of this product to contact dispatch at 970-728-1911. You may remain anonymous.

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