FORT WANE (WANE) – In 2021, Fort Wayne police seized the most fentanyl they have ever had since they started tracking. The drug first hit the streets in 2015. Vice-Captain Narcotics Kevin Hunter shared the stats with WANE 15:
|Year||Fentanyl seized (grams)|
|2021 (until October)||5,029|
Captain Hunter says a lethal dose of fentanyl can be as low as two milligrams, meaning the record 5,029 grams seized in 2021 equates to roughly 2.5 million lethal doses that were taken off the streets of Fort Wayne .
“If we’ve seized that much fentanyl, I’m guessing there’s still a lot of it on the streets right now,” Captain Hunter said.
Additionally, Fort Wayne could break a record for drug overdose deaths in 2021. The record stands at 145, set in 2020. Which broke the previous record of 144, set in 2019. As of November, Fort Wayne is at 103 overdose deaths, but 92 pending toxicology testing could significantly increase the total.
WANE 15 discussed these numbers with Nate Moellering, Director of Community Outreach for Fort Wayne Recovery and Allendale Treatment. Fort Wayne Recovery tracks down and works with drug addicts to try to help them understand the danger they face when using drugs. Moellering said the main problem they face is fentanyl.
“A very, very small amount [of fentanyl] can be deadly. Up to two milligrams,” Moellering said. “So two small grains of salt can be deadly. And that’s just regular fentanyl. There are many different analogues, which simply means that there are many different versions that are created, the molecule of which is slightly modified.
According to Captain Hunter, drug dealers are flooding the streets with fentanyl. They combine it with other drugs, and it can come in powder or pill form.
Moellering says it’s extremely dangerous these days, because you never know what you’re buying when you buy drugs. It can be mixed with a number of illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine. According to Moellering, this is the most important factor when it comes to drug overdoses being the leading cause of death among people aged 18 to 45 in the United States.
“You probably don’t get what you think you’re getting. It can therefore be potentially fatal. And if it’s not deadly, you could become addicted. And what we see is drug addiction, you know, we measure things, not just overdose deaths, but broken relationships, broken families, people who can’t work, because they now suffer from substance abuse and mental health issues,” Moellering said.
Both Captain Hunter and Moellering stressed the importance for families to have Narcan available to hopefully prevent a drug overdose from becoming fatal.
“What we know is that fentanyl kills people by stopping them from breathing and that Narcan kicks all those opioids out of the opioid receptors and brings people back to life,” Captain Hunter said. “So having Narcan on hand is very important.”
We can treat addiction. We cannot deal with death. So as long as we can keep people alive and give them a chance to recover, that’s a win.
Nate Moellering, Director of Community Outreach, Fort Wayne Recovery and Allendale Treatment
Fort Wayne Police now offers a Hope and Recovery Team that includes two detectives and two social workers who attempt to connect people who have had non-fatal overdoses to treatment.
The number to reach HART is (260) 427-5801.
Captain Hunter says anyone can call and leave a message at any time. He said no arrests will be made. The goal is to help people.
In addition to contacting Fort Wayne Recovery, Moellering also offered these sources to families and users:
- Overdose Lifeline is free and delivers Narcan to your doorstep
- Never Use Alone is free and allows anyone to call an 800 number before using drugs. Anyone can give their details and they stay online. If you stop answering, they will call first responders. (Disclaimer: This is a resource to help prevent drug overdose deaths and WANE 15 does not advocate drug use)
“I want to be very clear and say that we are not advocating for drug use; However, we advocate for harm reduction. We can treat addiction. We cannot deal with death. So as long as we can keep people alive and give them a chance to recover, that’s a win,” Moellering said of using Never Use Alone.
The main objective will always be to clean the streets and prevent people from using dangerous and illegal drugs. After a record-breaking 2021, Moellering hopes to see numbers for fentanyl and all opioids plummet in 2022.
“I hope one day to go bankrupt,” Moellering said. “I hope we do such a good job at some point, all together as community partners, that we don’t have to do this anymore.”