West Bend hosts 4-week program to spread fentanyl awareness

NOW: West Bend hosts 4-week program to spread fentanyl awareness

WEST BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Washington County's chasing down the fentanyl overdose problem. Tonight, a number of agencies joined forces hosting the first of a four-week series on fentanyl to spread awareness.

It was held at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend. The sheriff's office told us overdose deaths nearly doubled during the pandemic from 2020 to 2021 -- right here in Washington County -- and the number hasn't gone back down.

Fentanyl's an emerging threat on college campuses, so it's impactful and necessary for students to hear messages like these.

"Going through undergrad I mean I've heard of college students taking medication like Adderall or something that they probably shouldn't be if it's not prescribed to them. It's just extremely dangerous," said grad student Kaitlyn Henderson.

It's how 19-year-old Logan Rachwal lost his life in his dorm at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His parents, forever changed, were the keynote speakers here.

"Just on the way here tonight, Rick was at a stop light and he was like oh my gosh, this is really happening. You know you still go through those periods of shock. It just, it doesn't go away," said Erin Rachwal of the Love Logan Foundation.

Rachwal fell asleep on FaceTime with his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2021. He never woke up. Toxicology determined the Percocet he thought he took was laced with fentanyl.

"If you can have that honest conversation with them. Find out why they're doing what they're doing," said Rick Rachwal of the Love Logan Foundation.

Logan's parents have a wish -- that there could be a sense of urgency for fentanyl, as there was for Covid. Already this year, three people have lost their lives to fentanyl overdose in Washington County, including one who's just a year out of high school.

"Do we have a fentanyl problem here in Washington County? Yes," said Sgt. Chris Killey, of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who also works with the multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement group.

Sgt. Killey says drug use is widespread, but dealers are mostly transient, coming in from Milwaukee.

The audience learned fentanyl, when prescribed by a doctor, is a good thing, for cancer patients.

"It helps control the pain very well and you need very small doses of it, and you don't have to worry about a lot of kidney and liver functions like you would with a lot of the other pain relievers," said pharmacist Melanie Steffens-Brook.

Students are walking away with an even better understanding.

"You don't ever want to take a medication that's not yours because you don't know what could be in it. And even just a trace amount of something dangerous could be lethal to you," said Henderson.

There are three more weeks in the program. Registration is free. Here's a link to register.

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