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Pima County Supplies UArizona Fraternities With Fentanyl Overdose Kits

December 19, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Fentanyl overdose kits are the latest among necessary school supplies for University of Arizona (UArizona) students.

Amid the burgeoning fentanyl crisis, Pima County supplied all 15 of the UArizona fraternity houses with fentanyl overdose treatment kits for the upcoming semester. 

The county supplied the houses with Narcan kits as part of a year-long drive initiated by one of their Community Mental Health and Addiction interns, Aiden Pettit-Miller. UArizona’s Emergency Medical Services team and Interfraternity Council (IFC) also assisted.

Miller, a senior student at UArizona, says he launched the initiative after one of his high school friend’s roommates at Arizona State University (ASU) overdosed on fentanyl in 2020. 

Narcan is the brand name for the medicine naloxone, and is also used to treat overdosing from other opioids: heroin, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, and morphine. First responders rely on the treatment for suspected overdosing. 

The Arizona Department of Health reports over 1,400 opioid deaths so far this year. AZDHS folds fentanyl-related deaths into the “RX/Synthetic” category, which includes “all other opioids” except heroin, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. This year, the number of RX/Synthetic deaths is nearly 1,400 (97 percent). 

In 2021, there were over 2,000 opioid deaths; just over 1,900 (94 percent) of deaths were RX/Synthetic. The fatality rate per 100,000 population dropped this year from 28 percent to 20 percent.

Amid the border crisis ushered in by the Biden administration, fentanyl deaths arose as the leading cause of death among adults aged 18 to 45 years old. 

Teens accounted for 77 percent of adolescent overdose deaths last year. The demographic spike correlated with efforts by cartels to ply youth with the deadly drug, such as “rainbow fentanyl.”

Fentanyl became the subject of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) first public safety alert in six years, issued last September. As part of their campaign to raise awareness about the deadliness of fentanyl, “One Pill Can Kill,” the DEA discovered that about 60 percent of fake prescription pills contain lethal doses of fentanyl. The discovery marked an increase from the 2021 average of 40 percent. 

These fake pills are marketed and disguised to appear legitimate via social media and e-commerce platforms.

On college campuses like UArizona, victims of fentanyl overdosing range widely. The partygoer looking for a high and the student looking for extra focus are at equal risk. UArizona, along with ASU, ranks consistently as one of the top party schools in the nation, and Adderall is a popular go-to for students studying for exams or finishing hefty assignments. Both popular party drugs and study boosters may be obtained illicitly, and both are likely to contain deadly doses of fentanyl.

UArizona is also looking to create an organization called “Fraternities Fighting Fentanyl” with their School of Public Health, the fraternities, and the student-run emergency medical service. The organization will hand out fentanyl test strips, Narcan, and educational pieces to students.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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