A dangerous new drug, fentanyl, has made its way to the Western Slope of Colorado. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid estimated by the Drug Enforcement Agency to be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reported that Montrose, Delta, and Montezuma counties experienced eight drug overdose deaths in 2020. La Plata County saw seven drug overdose deaths that same year. The Colorado Attorney General’s office estimates 2,000 Coloradans have lost their lives to fentanyl and heroin in the past ten years. 

We’re here to help. 

Even though the impacts of this new drug may seem overwhelming, treatment and recovery are possible. Axis treats substance use disorders, providing treatment for misuse of fentanyl, alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription opioids, and even heroin. Samantha Peel, EdD, a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Substance Use Disorder Supervisor with Axis who oversees the Intensive Outpatient Program in Montrose, describes the current fentanyl crisis in stark terms. “It (fentanyl) is killing too many people, and it is especially hard to see individuals suffer tragic consequences. With fentanyl, it can result in death, especially since there is no quality control—you never know what you are getting in terms of the amount of fentanyl or even if fentanyl is mixed in with another drug.”  Thomas Bentley, Certified Addiction Specialist and Program Manager for Axis’ Withdrawal Management (Social Detox) unit in Durango, said, “Over the past five years, we primarily saw people come to our Withdrawal Management unit for alcohol, methamphetamines, or common opioids such as Oxycontin or even heroin. Now we also see patients who need to detox from fentanyl, or fentanyl and another drug.”  Axis offers withdrawal management services (non-medically supervised or social detox) in both Montrose and Durango.  Axis uses evidence-based practices to serve people who are interested in getting help in a variety of settings. Axis offers an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to support individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and several groups, including Early Recovery Support, Primary Recovery, and Maintenance Recovery.   

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How can you help? 

There are many resources to help community members access lifesaving Narcan (Naloxone), an FDA-approved medication that can prevent deaths by reversing the effect of opioids (including heroin, morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).  You can learn more about how to get Narcan, opioid safety, and how to properly use Narcan by visiting the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. 

Important Facts About Fentanyl 
  • Fentanyl responds to Narcan like all opioids.  It may take 2-3 minutes to take effect, and more than one dose may be required. 
  • You cannot overdose simply by touching fentanyl. It must come in contact with the bloodstream or mucus membrane (mouth, nose, eyes) to affect an individual. 
  • Fentanyl patches are prescribed by physicians to treat pain and are different than what is available on the street and mixed or cut with other drugs.