SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- (07/25/17) The drug is fentanyl -- it’s a prescription pain killer even stronger than heroin. It's so potent that just coming in contact with it can be deadly. And Springfield police say they are seeing it right here on the streets of Springfield.
Lisa Cox from the Springfield Police Department says, “If you would have asked us two years ago we would have said absolutely not. We don’t see fentanyl in Springfield.”
But that has all changed in the last year. The drug has become more common, and is often seen in powder form. It has become popular with drug dealers, who will cut heroin with fentanyl.
Missouri Recovery Network peer ambassador Chris Gaul says, “You have individuals that are manufacturing heroin with fentanyl to get a stronger product, because it is all about return customers in that business. For other individuals I believe heroin just isn’t strong enough.”
For those who unknowingly inject themselves with fentanyl, the consequences can be deadly.
Gaul says, “If you don’t know what you are getting you are playing with fire, it is very dangerous. That is why we are losing people at such a high rate because when they are injecting drugs into their body or when they are smoking it, or however they are in taking it, they are not sure what they are getting.”
The increase on fentanyl on the streets is also dangerous for law enforcement. Certain officers are now equipped with an antidote that counteracts the drug… as an overdose can occur from breathing in or coming in contact with the powder.
Cox says officers that are focused primarily on narcotics investigations now have narcan with them, should they ingest the drug. They, or other officers, can treat themselves or others on scene.
Chris Gaul helps those addicted to opioids find recovery. He says the prescription drug monitoring programs that have been approved by the city of Springfield and Greene County are critical first steps for combating the opioid crisis that has plagued the area in recent years.
He says, “With this implementation is accountability at all levels, it's not going to allow people to have drug seeking behavior at the level that they did before. I am not going to say that it is going to be a perfect solution but it is a good start.”
The Springfield Police Department urges residents to report any drug activity that they believe is going on in their neighborhood.