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Colorado experts warn of fentanyl dangers during holidays

New awareness campaign aims to "Keep the Party Safe"
Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-17 19:37:23-05

DENVER – Experts are warning Coloradans about the danger fentanyl poses during the holidays.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, contributed to or caused the deaths of more than 900 people in Colorado last year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

With more people going to holiday parties and other gatherings, experts say the chances of coming into contact with drugs laced with fentanyl may increase.

“It's the most dangerous thing we have ever seen in the history of civilization as far as an illicit substance, getting into the street supply and showing up uninvited and unannounced,” said Dr. Robert Valuck, the executive director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. “It's 50 times more potent than heroin, 100 times more potent than morphine – and morphine is very strong.”

The Consortium recently launched what it describes as a "non-judgmental" awareness campaign, called “Keep the Party Safe.”

It’s aimed at preventing and reversing fentanyl overdoses.

“We want this to be a reality-based campaign,” said Valuch. “We're trying to equip people with tools and knowledge to prevent themselves from being the next statistic.”

They created public service announcements and placed messages on nightlife-inspired artwork, which can be found at several Denver area bars.

The messages encourage people to create a checklist before going out to party.

The checklist includes suggestions like encouraging people to bring their own naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.

People are also encouraged to designate a non-user. This is someone who would be ready and able to administer naloxone to others if necessary.

Other suggestions include knowing the signs of an overdose and having fentanyl test strips on hand.

"We're not telling people what to do,” said Valuck. “We're telling people to be safe as they can be no matter what.”

It’s an especially important message to share during the holidays when drug use spikes.

With more people going to parties this time of year, experts say the odds of coming into contact with drugs laced with fentanyl may increase.

Valuck said people who overdose on fentanyl are often unaware they are taking it.

"You think you're getting a Xanax tablet, or you think you're getting something else, and it's not, it's fentanyl instead,” said Valuck. “Then it becomes an issue because it's so potent that just one tablet like that of counterfeit substance can kill you.”

Valuck hopes the campaign will keep the party safe from fentanyl should it show up uninvited.

For more information, including where to find resources like naloxone and testing strips, visit