Salisbury Police issue warning after spike in local overdose deaths

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 1, 2022

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Police Department issued a warning to the community on Wednesday following a recent series of overdose deaths around the city.

The message first appeared on the department’s Facebook page, explaining that there have been four overdose deaths in Salisbury in the past five days alone. The post also noted that most of the victims were under the age of 30 and that several of them were only known to use marijuana.

After speaking with friends and family members of the victims, the department has become “concerned” that fentanyl is being added to marijuana that is being distributed around the area.

Additionally, the department noted that its Narcotics Unit had discovered counterfeit Xanax, Oxycodone and Roxycodone pills being sold on streets, all of which likely contributed to the overdose deaths.

Lt. P.J. Smith of the department’s Special Investigations division noted that there “has been an increase in the past few months” of cases involving fentanyl-laced and counterfeit drugs in Salisbury.

While the current overdose cases are still being investigated,  Salisbury Police are also awaiting lab results to confirm suspicions that marijuana is being laced with fentanyl.

Issues involving fentanyl-related overdoses are hardly limited to Salisbury and Maj. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said they have seen an increase in these cases over the past two years.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the rise of fentanyl as an “epidemic” that has led to a “third wave” of the opioid crisis, with cases involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl growing across the country since 2013.

While fentanyl has not traditionally been associated with marijuana production and consumption, this would not be the first case where a person overdosed as a result of this combination. Fentanyl is considered to be extremely dangerous and even a small dosage could lead to an overdose and death.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.

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