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Nebraska and Iowa dealing with uptick in overdoses

Posted at 9:58 AM, Aug 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 10:58:39-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Healthcare workers and law enforcement agencies in Nebraska and Iowa say both states are experiencing an epidemic, one that is responsible for killing over a dozen people in less than a month.

"There has been a significant uptick in overdoses, I think well over 50 between Lincoln and Omaha PD that we've had reported," said Darin Thimmesch, an assistant special agent with the DEA.

There have been 13 overdose-related deaths in Nebraska within the last 30 days with over half of them just in Lancaster County.

"Overdoses in Lancaster County claiming the lives of six people and also an unborn child. The bulk of the cases have been linked to cocaine laced with fentanyl, which is an opioid," said Taylor Moore, behavioral coordinator for the Division of Health.

For police, a large concern is college students getting a hold of drugs laced with fentanyl as a small dose can become deadly.

"Two milligrams is a lethal dose. These counterfeit pills are anywhere between a little bit under two, up to five milligrams, and that's twice the lethal dose. Two milligrams are equal to just a small amount of salt,” said Thimmesch.

In an effort to help stop overdoses, Narcan is offered at 25 different pharmacies across the state for free.

"Since October 2020, we have distributed 2,500 free naloxone kits," said Brad Zumwalt, project director of the state Opioid Response Grant.

"I think the deaths would be even more, on the overdose deaths. I think we would definitely see a higher number there if we didn't have that," Thimmesch said.

Law enforcement says the way to stop the spike in overdoses is to raise awareness, educate and inform people on resources they can go to for help.

"Any funding that we have that we can put into any level, whether it's enforcement, whether it's rehabilitation or whether it's education, it helps immensely," Thimmesch.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction there are resources available to you below.

Also, August 31 is International Drug Overdose Awareness Day and you are encouraged to wear purple in support.

Additional resources:

  • Your faith-based leader, your healthcare professional, or student health center on campus.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 para Español
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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