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Fentanyl is one of the deadliest drugs in America, Las Cruces gathers to support community

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — An estimated 150 people die every day across the United States from synthetic opioids, one of the most dangerous is fentanyl, according to federal sources.

Today, on National Fentanyl Awareness Day, authorities and organizations are gathering in Las Cruces to talk about support.

Hosted by the Las Cruces Police Department and community service groups, the event is focused on fentanyl and it's dangers -- and outlines the challenges of opioid abuse.

ABC-7 reported last year that police considered fentanyl an considered an "epidemic" in Las Cruces last year. At that time, official stats showed that 3,292 Fentanyl pills were seized in Doña Ana County in 2019. In 2021, that number went up to 22,646, and by October of last year, over 50,000 pills were seized.


Event organizers say the groups at the park will be able to give information on substance use disorders -- and outline treatment services in the area. In a statement, organizers said the event is focused on assisting with referrals, intakes and services across Las Cruces.


The National Institutes of Health has information on how the mind is affected by fentanyl use.

"Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions," according to the NIH. "After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug. When people become addicted, drug seeking and drug use take over their lives."

NIH data claims fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“Medication with behavioral therapies has been shown to be effective in treating people with an addiction to fentanyl and other opioids,” according to NIH.

Treatment for substance use and addiction is available, and Naloxone can even reverse an overdose. You can find more details here.


"Opioid overdose continues to be an urgent public health challenge in the United States and in New Mexico," the New Mexico Department of Health website states. "In 2019, 74% of all overdose deaths involve opioids in New Mexico. Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased 457% since 1999 in the US, which lead public health officials to declare a nationwide opioid overdose epidemic."

The report for 2023 contains many outlines of progress in the approach to addiction in New Mexico. Further details on fentanyl in New Mexico can be found here.

"New Mexico consistently has the highest alcohol-related death rate in the country and ranked
sixth nationally for drug overdose deaths in 2021," the report states. "Substance use disorders (SUD) remain a problem in New Mexico, as alcohol- and drug-related deaths increased rapidly during the

Concerns have been growing across the country about the dangers of fentanyl. Texas officials claim five people die each day of fentanyl within the state.

DEA Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso Division, Towanda Thorne-James said this morning, "Illicit fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing our country." The El Paso Division covers 17 counties in West Texas. “On this day, we stand in support of all our partners who are helping raise awareness about this deadly drug.”


National Fentanyl Awareness Day began in 2022 to recognize the growing risks that fentanyl poses in our communities, according to officials.

“Americans today are experiencing the most devastating drug crisis in our nation’s history. This is because one drug – fentanyl – has transformed the criminal landscape,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Today, we honor the Americans whose lives we lost and call upon all Americans to raise public awareness.  We must also reach more people faster through public awareness and education efforts.  We hope you will join our community partners on this National Fentanyl Awareness Day to educate your communities about fentanyl.”

This year, the Drug Enforcement Agency is advising everyone of the actual physical dangers of fentanyl:

  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just two milligrams—the equivalent of a few grains of salt—is a potentially lethal dose.
  • The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels are hiding fentanyl in fake pills that look like prescription medications, such as oxycodone, Xanax, and Percocet. The cartels are also mixing fentanyl powder into other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Many of the people poisoned by fentanyl had no idea they were even taking it.
  • The cartels, their members, and their associates continue using social media applications and encrypted communications platforms to sell pills and powders that are advertised as legitimate medications or other substances, but actually contain fentanyl.
  • The only safe medications are ones that come from licensed and accredited medical professionals.

Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

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