GREENVILLE, S.C (WSPA) – A harm reduction coalition in the Upstate is trying to clear up any confusion when it comes to fentanyl exposure.
Multiple members said the correct information can be life-saving.
The Palmetto Harm Reduction Coalition is made up of different experts coming together to educate the community, especially when it comes to fentanyl. They said there is a lot of misinformation circulating, which has led to confusion and fear.
Experts said there is a lot of stigma around safely administering help to those exposed to fentanyl.
Dr. Quang Pham specializes in internal and addiction medicine. He said sometimes people panic and can pass out when trying to give help, because they are afraid of coming into contact with the drug.
“Because of this misconception that you can touch fentanyl and suddenly overdose and die, it prevents people from helping others who overdosed,” stated Dr. Pham.
Marc Burrows, director of a drug education and safety program Challenges Inc., is a member of the coalition.
“We don’t want people to be afraid of administering Narcan due to fear that they will overdose themselves,” said Burrows.
The drug is used in a medical setting for pain. For example, in IVs and patches.
“Those patches, they take at least 6 hours to absorb, and these are made for absorption. So, to overdose by touching a piece of Fentanyl, like powder Fentanyl, that’s just not possible,” said Dr. Pham.
It was never intended for street use. However, Jessica Owens, with the Phoenix Center, said people are still abusing the drug.
“Making sure that people are aware that Fentanyl and overdoses are on the rise,” said Owens.
This is why the Palmetto Harm Reduction Coalition was formed.
“We share our ideas and our experiences with getting harm reduction into our community,” she said.
They address the problem and help set the record straight on administering help.
“Because it can be scary. They see that they’ve come close to a bag of Fentanyl, they start to panic and worry, hyperventilate,” said Burrows.
Their help, through the coalition, isn’t confined to the four walls of a treatment facility.
“We go to high-risk areas, it might be a motel, it might be a homeless encampment, it’s the bars and clubs downtown,” said Owens.
The coalition trains staff and provides free Narcan and Fentanyl test strips to anyone who needs them. Because, every minute counts if someone is overdosing.
Dr. Pham said if you do come into contact with Fentanyl powder, you can easily wash it off or seek medical help if you are concerned.
For more information on the coalition, contact email@example.com or call the Phoenix Center at: 864-467-3790.