LPD warns of counterfeit oxycodone pills that contain fentanyl

The Lincoln Police Department says the city should be on high alert for an increase of counterfeit oxycodone pills that are actually fentanyl.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lincoln Police Department says the city should be on high alert for an increase of counterfeit oxycodone pills that are actually fentanyl.

“This is a serious problem because people think that they’re ingesting one substance, but in reality, they are actually taking a substance that is much more dangerous,” LPD officer Luke Bonkiewicz said.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“It’d be like if what you were doing was thinking you were gonna catch a baseball or softball and instead a wrecking ball comes your way,” CenterPointe CEO Topher Hansen said. “It’s just gonna knock you right off the earth.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed to treat severe pain experienced by cancer patients, for instance.

Fentanyl that is made and sold illegally is so powerful, it can trigger an overdose, simply by touching it.

“What it’s doing is saying to the little center of your brain that tells you to breathe is go to sleep and your respiratory center goes to sleep and then you stop breathing and then your heart stops beating,” Hansen said.

LPD says there have been 50 drug overdoses in Lincoln so far in 2021. For reference, at this time last year, there were 34 overdoses.

“We are concerned that the increase is going to grow because of these counterfeit pills and that’s why we’re trying to get the word out to the public that this issue is dangerous, there are counterfeit pills out there, and we want people to be careful,” Bonkiewicz said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose, LPD says to call 9-1-1 right away.

“We don’t want people to not call because they’re afraid they might be arrested,” Bonkiewicz said. “If someone’s experiencing overdose, they need to call 9-1-1 immediately and get medical there as soon as possible.”

According to Nebraska Revised Statute 28-472, individuals are protected from criminal prosecution if they, in good faith, make a request for emergency medical assistance in response to a drug overdose and remain on scene until medical assistance and law enforcement arrive.

Hansen says police departments play a big role in helping rehabilitation facilities better do their jobs when dangerous drugs are out on the streets.

“The police are usually the first line of defense,” Hansen said. “They’re the ones who see it first. When they give us that information, our outreach team, our street outreach team, our Crisis Response Teams, our walk-ins at our outpatient clinic, and all the people in our outpatient clinic can be advised of that so we then have the ability to respond to that in a better way.”

If you or someone you know is dealing with addiction, you can get help by clicking here or calling CenterPointe’s 24/7 Crisis Line at (402) 475-5161.

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