Rock Co. officials concerned over growing number of cocaine-fentanyl overdoses

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Officials in Rock County say they’re seeing a distressing trend: a growing number of overdose deaths as a result of cocaine being mixed with fentanyl.

“Right now, cocaine is the number one co-occurring controlled substance with fentanyl,” Lieutenant Mike Blaser of the Janesville Police Department said in a news release put out by Rock County Public Health.

Officials say Rock County saw its most drug-involved deaths ever last year, and a little more than 1 in 4 of those drug deaths involved a mix of fentanyl and cocaine. If the first five months of this year, that rate nearly doubled to 48%.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin health officials issued a statewide public health advisory for fentanyl-laced drugs after they found synthetic opioids like fentanyl were linked to 91% of opioid overdose deaths in the state and 73% of all overdose deaths.

RELATED: DHS issues public health advisory for fentanyl-laced drugs

Authorities say sometimes mixing the two drugs is intentional, but in many cases, a person using cocaine or other drugs may not know it has also been laced with fentanyl, increasing the risk of an overdose or death.

While authorities and health officials would not condone drug use, they say the increased presence of fentanyl in other drugs means those who do use should assume drugs may have fentanyl mixed in and take appropriate precautions, including never using drugs alone, keeping Narcan nearby when using, and testing drugs for fentanyl before using.

Narcan can be used to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose and is provided for free at multiple locations or sold at local pharmacies. Rock County Health says a list of locations offering Narcan and instructions on how to use it can be found on the Department of Health Services website. Fentanyl test strips can also be used to check for the presence of fentanyl in drugs before they are used. A map showing where fentanyl test strips are available can also be found on the DHS website.