Tom Petrizzo, CEO of Tri-County Mental Health Services

Fentanyl is here in the Northland, and its effects can be deadly. It has killed children and adults, right here in our community. Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is cheap to make and incredibly powerful. It gets added to counterfeit painkillers and other drugs, including marijuana and meth. Two milligrams of it – just the size of a few grains of salt or the tip of a pencil – can kill most adults.

When added to other drugs, Fentanyl transforms normal-appearing prescription drugs into deadly doses of poison. While all deaths by drugs are terrible, Fentanyl deaths are especially terrible because most victims had no intention of taking Fentanyl. In many cases, the person does not even know the drug they are taking is laced with Fentanyl. 

 Fentanyl is stunningly dangerous, and you can play a role in preventing overdose deaths from it, even if you are not someone buying or using illegal drugs. You can help prevent drug overdose deaths by:

  • Making sure you and your loved ones never take a pill from anyone or anywhere that isn’t prescribed by a doctor, bought at a pharmacy and/or out of its original container. The only safe pills are the ones you are certain are “clean”.
  • Making sure your own prescription drugs do not wind up being sold. The whole trade in counterfeit pills exists because people get their hands onto drugs and sell them improperly. If you toss your unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions in the trash, they might be “rescued” by an alert drug dealer. Instead, drop them off at a safe disposal site, as listed on
  • Carry Naloxone or Narcan and learn how to administer it to those showing the signs of overdose. Naloxone or Narcan is a drug that you can use to reverse the effects of an overdose. Narcan is easy to use as a nasal spray, and it immediately begins to reverse the dangerous overdose symptoms of someone who has ingested Fentanyl. In the Northland, you can get it free and without showing your identification at the Clay County Health Department and the Platte County Health Department. Other sources of Naloxone or Narcan can be found at You can also purchase it at local pharmacies.


For more exciting updates, career opportunities, interesting stories and ways to support Tri-County delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter that is distributed every other month.