From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Help us remember Idahoans who have died from a drug overdose on International Overdose Awareness Day

August 26, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

In 2021, 353 Idaho residents died from a drug overdose.

From 2010 to 2022, more than 2,900 Idahoans have died from an overdose.

Those numbers are distressing to me because they mean so many Idaho families are missing a loved one today, because of an overdose.

A person develops tolerance in response to various levels of drugs, depending on how much they use. An overdose happens when the strength of the drug exceeds a person’s ability to tolerate it.

Because of fentanyl’s strength, small amounts of it can result in overdoses and deaths. This leaves people who have low tolerance levels, such as recreational drug users, at risk for overdose.

Idaho has been seeing an increase in fentanyl-related overdoses and overdose deaths. With the increased presence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl in drugs sold illegally (also called street drugs), anyone who uses street drugs is at risk for an overdose. Unknown amounts of fentanyl can be found in pills, powders, and liquids that are sold illegally.

Overdose deaths are avoidable. There are things we all can do to prevent those tragic deaths. Talk to your loved ones about their substance use, and guide them toward resources to help.

Another way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get doses of naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. It is available in two forms — as a nasal spray and as an injection. Naloxone nasal spray is known by the brand names Narcan and Kloxxado. All are available through pharmacies and community organizations. Find naloxone near you at FindIdahoTesting.org

Visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website and search for “drug overdose prevention” for resources and additional help.

To observe International Overdose Awareness Day, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will host an event at 10 a.m. MT Aug. 31 at the Idaho Capitol Building steps, featuring speakers from state agencies as well as community members affected by overdose. Speakers will share their experiences about the overdose epidemic in Idaho and the spectrum of substance use, community resources, and personal experiences with overdose. We hope you can join us.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.