SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls has seen 12 fatal overdoses and 41 nonfatal overdoses so far this year, according to the city’s Police Department.
The department says what officers are seeing this year is on par and even a little lower than the number of overdoses last year.
Sioux Falls Police Captain Mike Colwill said in the last week, the department saw three fatal overdoses, which they believe are most likely related to a fentanyl mix.
He added that SFPD always has concerns about illegal narcotics use and the dangers associated with using.
“Fentanyl basically is a really highly potent synthetic opioid drug that is, under proper circumstances and prescribed by a doctor, used for pain management and it’s very effective for some people,” Colwill said.
However, when you’re buying illegal drugs, fentanyl isn’t produced under strict standards.
“The problem becomes when you’re getting fentanyl that’s not made in a controlled pharmaceutical lab, that’s maybe created in China and then is mixed with other illegal narcotics as well, like heroin. Then it becomes extremely fatal for people in small doses,” Colwill said.
Colwill said three deaths in a single month is significant for the Sioux Falls community, let alone a single week.
“The concern for people doing illegal drugs, like heroin and fentanyl is the fact that they’re so potent and so dangerous that you have really no idea what you’re purchasing from your supplier and what the levels of fentanyl potentially are. Whether it’s an illegally manufactured pill or it’s mixed in with some sort of powdered heroin product. You don’t know what the content of heroin is in that product. One time it could be something that users would consider a good high and the very next time it could be something that is completely fatal,” Colwill said.
One of the aspects Colwill admires about the Sioux Falls community is the many resources the area has for battling drug addiction, homelessness and poverty.
“There’s a lot of places to go in Sioux Falls. I think reaching out to your family and your friends for help is always a great start, but we also have a great medical community in Sioux Falls. And you can reach out to any of those folks and they’d be able to help you out and start down that road,” Colwill said.
Substance abuse can affect anyone. If you or a loved one has substance use disorder, you can find resources on our Opioid Crisis page.