Methamphetamine use and overdose deaths are on the rise in Nebraska, according to reports from the Lincoln Police Department.
The largest increase was seen in July 2021, when the LPD reported 50 cases of drug overdose over a 30-day period. LPD also found fentanyl, a strong synthetic opioid mixed with narcotics, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit oxycodone pills. Fentanyl can cause dependence, respiratory depression and arrest, coma or death.
The UNL Police Department offers advice for students on what they need to know about overdoses and what to do if they or someone shows signs of it.
UNLPD Deputy Chief Marty Fehringer said a drug overdose occurs when an individual has too much of a given substance to the point of becoming toxic or fatal.
Some symptoms include, but are not limited to, clammy or cold skin, shallow breathing, fainting or fainting, vomiting or seizures, according to Fehringer. People may also be less inhibited than they normally are or be unaware of their surroundings.
Drug overdoses can also cause coma or death.
âThat’s the dangerous part of what’s been happening in our community lately, is the fact that so many people have passed away,â Fehringer said.
If anyone sees an unconscious or unconscious person, Fehringer said to call 911 immediately, even if someone has used illegal drugs. Nebraska’s Good Samaritan Act provides civil liability protection for certain violations to people who experience or witness a drug overdose if they immediately call the police or emergency services.
âIt’s about saving lives,â Fehringer said. “If you are really, really someone’s friend, you have to do what you can now.”
Fehringer said it’s always dangerous to experiment with drugs, but all the more so now that many of the drugs being distributed contain fentanyl, leading to more accidental deaths.
Every officer on the UNLPD campus carries a life-saving drug called naloxone, which can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, Fehringer said. However, not all LPD agents wear it and it is not guaranteed to work every time it is administered.
âIt’s a dangerous game, and our communities have really suffered over the past two months when it comes to people who have overdosed,â Fehringer said.
Individuals might not know where the drugs they ingest are coming from, Fehringer said, and providers might not know it themselves. This means that users may not know what is actually in the drugs before using them.
For students who want help with their drug use or addiction, Fehringer said there are different routes they can take. Students can receive an alcohol and drug addiction assessment through counseling and psychology services, which will also help them connect students with other resources.
If students aren’t comfortable looking for resources on campus, there are meetings and resources available throughout Lincoln that deal with substance abuse and addiction.
âAddictions are tough,â Fehringer said. âAll addictions are tough, you know, so it’s hard to judge people you don’t know, you’ve never walked a mile for them, you don’t know what they’re going through. There are all kinds of resources on campus that are really put in place to try to help students be successful.
If you or someone you know has an addiction or addiction, you can reach CAPS at 402.472.7450 for additional resources.