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As fentanyl use surges, health official says treatment is available

Fentanyl Seized SFPD.png
Sioux Falls Police Department
Annual fentanyl seizures in Sioux Falls.

Law enforcement officers around South Dakota are raising the alarm about a spike in illegal fentanyl pills in the state, while a health official says treatment options are available.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It was originally created for pain management of cancer patients, but its euphoric qualities and accessibility make it sought after by drug dealers. Because the drug looks similar to other prescription narcotics, some people may not know which drug they’re taking.

Similar to other opioids, Fentanyl produces effects such as relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. It’s also addictive. Police in Sioux Falls and Rapid City each say fentanyl seizures are up more than 500 percent this year.

Malia Holbeck is an Avera Addiction Care Center manager. She says people suffering from fentanyl and opioid addiction should reach out for help.

“To be open and honest with your doctor or counselors too, that is something that is okay to do, to let them know that that you're struggling.”

Treatment for opioid addiction is difficult because of the physiological effects the drugs have on the brain. Holbeck says getting through the withdrawal period is essential to recovery.

“I think just because of how these substances impact the brain it takes the brain some time to be able to heal, so the more that we can walk along and support that individual in that recovery process their outcomes typically are better.”

People struggling with addiction can call a national substance-abuse and mental-health hotline at 1-800-662-4357.