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Medical associations launch campaign to warn Alabamians of fentanyl dangers

The “Odds Are Alabama” campaign will highlight the dangers of using any drugs or medications that aren’t from a pharmacy.

Montgomery native Lauren Littlefield tells media about her brother, Chase, who overdosed on a fentanyl-laced drug at just 18 years old. (Jacob Holmes/APR)

If you buy pills or drugs online or from a dealer, odds are they will be laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

That’s the message of the new “Odds Are Alabama” campaign warning Alabamians of the dangers of the drug that has become an epidemic.

“Alabama has seen a tremendous increase in opioid overdoses over the last several years,” said Dr. Scot Harris, public health officer for the State of Alabama. “With about two-thirds of all overdoses nationwide attributed to synthetic drugs like fentanyl, it’s obvious why the need for this campaign is so great.”

Montgomery native Lauren Littlefield shared the story of her brother, Chase, who died from a lethal fentanyl dose.

“Last APril, my brother being a curious 18-year-old took something given to him by a coworker,” Littlefield said. “He had no idea that what he was taking was laced with fentanyl, and by the time the ambulance had gotten to him, the damage was done. All it took to change our family’s lives forever was one pill, one time.”

A lethal dose of fentanyl is merely two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of salt. Fentanyl deaths more than doubled in Alabama from 2019 to 2020 according to the CDC.

Ina  2022 DEA lab study, 6 out of 10 fentanyl-laced drugs contained a lethal dose.

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Dr. Bobby Lewis, who serves in the UAB emergency department, said the hospital is seeing fentanly doses everyday.

“Unfortunately we see several deaths per week due to overdose,” Lewis said. “There are multiple things people take on the streets: methamphetamines, cocaine, heorin, but by far the biggest problem is the fentanyl.”

The year long campaign is sponsored by a number of state medical organizations including the Alabama Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics, the ALabama Chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians, ALabama Department of Mental Health, Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Hospital Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Medical Association of the State of Alabama, Scout Branding Company and VitAL Alabama.

Speakers said they are still ironing out the specifics of the campaign, but expect to promote education on a variety of channels from traditional media to social media.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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