Oconee County’s sheriff on Monday issued a warning about the dangers posed by the drug Fentanyl, although a spokesman says abuse is not yet a serious problem in South Carolina’s northwest corner.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jimmy Watt told South Carolina Radio Network that, even though they have seen very few cases of Fentanyl abuse and overdoses in Oconee County so far, the danger is real. Heroin overdoses spurred by the much more dangerous fetanyl have increased in the Northeast and Great Lakes region the past five years. The Drug Enforcement Agency says annual seizures of the drug have more than tripled since 2013.
“We certainly wanted to be proactive to make sure that everyone is aware of these situations that may occur. So they can keep not only themselves safe, but their families safe as well,” Watt said.
“Recently I attended a DEA symposium on behalf of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association and one of the main topics of discussion was the drug Fentanyl,” Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said in a statement. “Even though we have seen very few cases of Fentanyl abuse and overdoses in Oconee County so far, this danger is real, not only for our citizens but also for the law enforcement and public safety community as well.”
Fentanyl is a legal synthetic opioid that is prescribed by doctors to help with pain relief, primarily with cancer patients. It is prescribed in many forms, such as a time release patch or as a lollipop, for example. “It is a legally prescribed drug, but the difference between Fentanyl and perhaps a lot of other drugs you may find is that Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine,” Watt said.
It generally comes in as a white substance and drug dealers have been known to mix Fentanyl with other narcotics, such as heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine.
Fentanyl can be easily obtained and is produced in foreign countries, such as China, for shipment around the world.
“This danger increases with the rise of heroin use in many parts of the country,” he continued. “With that in mind, I wanted our office to issue this release so everyone will be safe and no one’s life will be put in danger.”