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'It is sad and it is tiring,' people dying from fentanyl is becoming too normal

Increase in El Paso County deaths and pills seized by Colorado Springs Police
Posted at 7:14 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 21:14:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The leading cause of death in Americans 18 to 45 years old right now is fentanyl, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The El Paso County Coroner's deputy chief medical examiner said people dying from fentanyl is becoming too normal.

"It is sad and it is tiring to see this," said Dr. Emily Russell-Kinsley.

Dr. Russell-Kinsley said fentanyl is easily hidden or mistaken for other drugs. "These are unnecessary deaths, no one has to die from this, these are preventable deaths."

The coroner's office reported nearly 100 people died from fentanyl in El Paso County in 2021. That number rose to 115 deaths in 2022.

In recent months, fentanyl busts and discussions have been in our community. In January, those closest to the fentanyl crisis in Southern Colorado said they were seeing fentanyl users tolerances increase.

WATCH: Doctors say Medicaid coverage falls short of escalating fentanyl use

A judge handed down the severest fentanyl -related sentencing in Colorado history in February.

In March, fentenayl pills were found on a charter bus after a Pueblo School District 60 4th grade field trip.

WATCH: Bus driver finds bag of fentanyl following elementary school field trip

Last month, Colorado Springs School District 11 and the Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen held a town hall meeting to discuss the fentanyl program in our community.

WATCH: District 11 and District Attorney Michael Allen host fentanyl town hall

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns just two milligrams of fentanyl, equal to a few grains of salt, is enough to kill an adult.

"It's definitely a scary thing, like I said you don't think of it being here at home but it is something that's here, it's in so many communities," said a Colorado Springs Police spokesperson, Caitlin Ford.

In February alone, Springs police officers seized 9,501 pills of fentanyl and 11,518 in March.

"By taking a look at the numbers, you can see that is something that is growing each year," said Ford. "Community problems require community solutions, it's not necessarily something we can police ourselves out of."

“Fentanyl continues to destroy families in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and around the country,” said the DEA’s Rocky Mountain Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky.

The DEA seized over 77 million fake fentanyl pills in 2023 alone. More than 70,000 Americans died last year from fentanyl poisoning. The DEA also reported that during their testing of the pills seized, seven out of 10 contained a fatal dose of fentanyl.

In January, the DEA announced a record fentanyl seizure in Centennial, Colorado.

WATCH: More fentanyl floods into Colorado and Rocky Mountain West, warns DEA

National Fentanyl Awareness Day, May 7, was created by the nonprofit organization, Song for Charlie, a few years ago. To learn more about the nonprofit, visit Song for Charlie's website.

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