SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Officials in Sioux City said an uptick in opioid deaths across Iowa is a concern in Siouxland. 

In 2021, 268 Iowans died from opioid overdoses. Sergeant Jeremy McClure with the Sioux City Police Department (SCPD) said fentanyl caused multiple deaths this year and one reason why is because fentanyl is being disguised as ordinary drugs.

“We are seeing what other people are seeing,” he said. “Fentanyl is coming into our community now pressed like pills. Some of them look like other pills that people may have used. There’s a whole other danger where people think they’re taking a sleep aid or anti-anxiety pill that they want to abuse and it’s fentanyl.”

Knowing the warning signs of an overdose can save lives. If the person is having respiratory problems or not waking up, those could be symptoms. Sioux City police have tools at their disposal to help stop an overdose such as narcan, a prescription medication used in emergencies.

Liz Webb, a staff pharmacist at Drilling Pharmacy, said Iowans can acquire narcan by completing an assessment form and learning how to administer it. She said being prepared for the unexpected can be life-saving.

“You hope that that’s rare, that you run across somebody who’s taken too much of a medication,” she said. “It can happen easier than people think, but if you have something on hand, it could quickly save somebody’s life to give them time for emergency services to be available. It makes a difference.”

Stopping an overdose is one challenge, preventing opioid use altogether is another. Barbara Fitzgerald is a clinical educator at MercyOne. She said breaking away from an opioid addiction is no easy task. 

“The longer you’re on it, the more symptoms when you do quit, you go through the withdrawal of it,” she said. “That’s a really hard part because you feel lousy going through it, and we do stuff in the hospital, the withdrawal programs.”