New twist on prescription drug abuse - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New twist on prescription drug abuse

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - It's supposed to help relieve pain from diseases like cancer, but authorities say misusing Fentanyl patches can kill you. What's worse, we're told people are going to extreme lengths to get the prescription drug.

Hospitals around the country report people dumpster diving for used patches. People are now chewing, swallowing, smoking, or injecting the drug.

"They say it's 100 times more potent than Heroin," said Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter.

Walter says his department has already had several deaths possibly associated with Fentanyl abuse in the newest forms.

"We've show up at medical assists and my deputies are finding items like torn patches and needles," said Sheriff Walter. "We need to make the public aware."

Sheriff Walter says people are looking for a more intense high and are finding new ways to manipulate Fentanyl patches.

This time users go beyond using several patches at a time. Instead, they are tearing them to get to the drug.

"It's time released so over two or three days imagine what's doing to your body," said Sheriff Walter.

Walter says they are seeing the misuse in young people so he wants parents to know what they are looking at if they see harmless looking packets or transparent squares.

Walter says when it comes to drugs, the game changes every day. In Scott County, investigators say they work constantly to find ways to stay ahead of that game.  One strategy to stay ahead, in Scott County they get to know the drug users themselves.

"We spend time talking to users because if you interview them that's where you get educated," said Sheriff Walter.

Sheriff Walter says Scott County inmate Kevin Jungers helped his team learn more about Fentanyl and other drugs. Jungers says people are now using Fentanyl much like bath salts, to fly under the radar. Jungers and authorities say it's because the drugs are potent, but appear harmless in their packaging.

"If I can help by raising awareness I'd like to save just one life," said Jungers.

Jungers says he watched friends die abusing bath salts. He says the highs produced are intense and similar.

Jungers says prevention through awareness is the only way to stop addiction.

"That's what has got to get drilled in their heads because it's a monster."

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