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(BALTIMORE) — Thiry-nine people have died from fentanyl-related heroin overdoses in Baltimore in the first quarter of 2015. The deaths indicate a 178 percent increase from 2014.

Fentanyl is an opiate related to heroin and is only prescribed post-surgically as a painkiller. However, it can be taken illegally.

Baltimore city health officials are increasing efforts to educate the public on the dangers of the drug. The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, says, “Nearly every day in Baltimore, one person dies from drug overdose. This is a public health emergency. It is our obligation to educate and save lives.”

Beginning Tuesday, the city’s health department will be handing out “Here’s How You Can Stay Alive” fliers to make drug users aware of the issue. They’ll also be relying on word of mouth in the drug user community, and street outreach teams.  

The Baltimore City Health Department also offers free overdose prevention training as well as naloxone kits. Residents can learn more by calling 410-396-3731 or visiting the city’s health department website.

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