A dangerous killer has swept the nation and affected communities nationwide

West Virginia Headlines

(WTRF) – It’s both powerful and extremely addictive. This synthetic opioid is the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S and continues to plague West Virginians from recovery.  

Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed and approved to treat severe pain. However, the surge in fentanyl-related overdoes are typically linked to illegal drug manufacturers. 

Director of Outpatient services at Northwood Health Systems, Jeremy Sagun says they’re seeing the impact of this dangerous drug right here in Wheeling.  

“It was created in the 60s as a pain killer and quickly it was identified as the most powerful pain killer at the time. It can easily cause raspatory depression and overdose and that usually happens in two ways.  Sometimes we’ll see people that don’t know they’re purchasing fentanyl and using it.”  

Jeremy Sagun, Director of Outpatient Services at Northwood Health Systems

He says it’s often mixed with other drugs like heroin and/or cocaine. But what is being done to put a stop to this deadly drug? 

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld has taking on an additional role that will help further combat the drug epidemic in the Northern District of West Virginia. 

“I have been elected to be the director or chairperson of the Appalachia HIDTA Executive Board and that’s an organization that over sees forty-eight drug tasks forces throughout the Appalachian region.” 

William Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney

Ihlenfeld to lead regional drug interdiction efforts

In 2021 the organization seized 50.5 KG of fentanyl. He says a lot of it comes from the south-west border and they will be traveling to Texas to further investigate.  

“The more we can interdict those drugs before they hit the streets of Wheeling or Moundsville or anywhere else in the region, the better opportunity we have to save lives.”

William Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney

He says this public health issue must be resolved and looks forward to taking part in making that happen.  

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