FORT WANE (WANE) — In 2021, Fort Wayne police seized the most fentanyl they ever have since they started keeping track. The drug hit the streets in 2015. Vice and Narcotics Captain Kevin Hunter shared the statistics with WANE 15:
|Year||Seized Fentanyl (grams)|
|2021 (through October)||5,029|
According to Captain Hunter, a lethal dose of fentanyl can be as little as two milligrams, meaning the record 5,029 grams seized in 2021 equals roughly 2.5 million fatal doses that were taken off the streets of Fort Wayne.
“If we have seized this much fentanyl, my guess would be there’s still a lot out on the street right now,” Captain Hunter said.
Additionally, Fort Wayne could break a record for drug overdose deaths in 2021. The record is 145, set in 2020. Which broke the previous record of 144, set in 2019. Through November, Fort Wayne is at 103 overdose deaths, but 92 pending toxicology tests could significantly increase the total.
WANE 15 discussed these numbers with Nate Moellering, the Community Outreach Director for Fort Wayne Recovery and Allendale Treatment. Fort Wayne Recovery tracks down and works with drug users to try to help them understand the danger they’re putting themselves in by using. Moellering said the leading issue they deal with is fentanyl.
“A very, very small amount [of fentanyl] can be lethal. As much as two milligrams,” Moellering said. “So two little grains of salt worth can be deadly. And that’s just regular fentanyl. There’s many different analogs, which just means there’s many different versions that are created, which the molecule is tweaked ever so slightly.”
According to Captain Hunter, drug dealers are flooding the streets with fentanyl. They’re lacing it with other drugs, and it can come as a powder or in a pill.
Moellering says it’s extremely dangerous these days, because you never know what you’re buying when you purchase drugs. It can be laced with a number of illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine. According to Moellering, that’s the biggest factor when it comes to drug overdoses being the leading cause of deaths for people aged 18-45 in the United States.
“You’re likely not getting what you think you’re getting. So it can be potentially deadly. And if it’s not deadly, you could become dependent. And what we see is drug dependency, you know, we measure things, not just the overdose deaths, but the broken relationships, the broken families, the people who can’t work, because they’re suffering now from drug addiction and mental health disorders,” Moellering said.
Captain Hunter and Moellering both stressed the importance of families having Narcan available to hopefully prevent a drug overdose from becoming fatal.
“What we know is fentanyl kills people by stopping people from breathing and 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 treat death. So, as long as we can keep people alive and give them a chance to recover, that’s a win,”Nate Moellering, Community Outreach Director, 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 try to connect people who have had non-fatal overdoses to treatment.
The number to reach H.A.R.T 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 get people help.
Aside from contacting Fort Wayne Recovery, Moellering also offered these sources for families and users:
- Overdose Lifeline is free and ships Narcan to your home
- Never Use Alone is free and allows anyone to call an 800 number before using drugs. Anyone can give their contact information and they stay on the line. If you become unresponsive, they’ll 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 saying we’re not advocating for drug use; However, we are advocating for harm reduction. We can treat addiction. We cannot treat death. So, as long as we can keep people alive and give them a chance to recover, that’s a win,” Moellering said regarding the use of Never Use Alone.
The main goal will always be to clean up the streets and stop people from using dangerous, illegal drugs. After a record-setting 2021, Moellering hopes to see the fentanyl numbers and all opioid numbers drop in 2022.
“I hope someday to go out of business,” Moellering said. “I would hope that we do such a good job at some point all of us together as community partners that we don’t have to do this anymore.”