Commander Bryan Hermerding of the Dakota County Drug Task Force gives an overview of the available street drugs during the November 10th educational event held by the United Way of Hastings. Photo Courtesy of Jane Neumiller-Bustad
‘Protect Your Family from Illicit Fentanyl’ program presented by the United Way of Hastings on Dec. 1

On Thursday, December 1, 2022, the United Way of Hastings (UWH) is offering a free educational event highlighting the dangers of opioids and illicit fentanyl poisonings.

“Protect Your Family from Illicit Fentanyl: Resources & Options” will be held at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (400 W. 9th Street, Hastings, MN) from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. so attendees can visit tables from over a dozen different recovery, advocacy, and support resource organizations. This event is the second in a 2-part series which started on November 10.

Overdoses and illicit fentanyl poisonings are now the leading cause of death for Americans 18-45 years old, surpassing car accidents, suicide, and cancer deaths combined. Preliminary data shows that in Minnesota, al-Booking most 4 people a day die from drug overdoses. In Hastings, preliminary data for 2020 and 2021 shows 12 people lost their lives to illicit fentanyl.

Illicit fentanyl is so deadly even a tiny amount can be lethal. Many deaths occur because people don’t know they're taking illicit fentanyl; first time users can be poisoned to death. Illicit fentanyl is found in counterfeit pills (which can be purchased online), street drugs, & even marijuana. These substances are often sold through social media and delivered to users.

For some, an opioid addiction may develop due to a sports injury. Some individuals turn to substances because of mental health issues or performance anxiety. Young people might get a pill at a party or buy something online because they're curious.

To address both the scope of the problem as well as possible solutions and resources, speakers will include Chief Dave Wilske, Hasting Police Department; Commander Bryan Hermerding of the Dakota County Drug Task Force; Justin Thomas, a substance use counselor for Allina Health; Tiffany Neuharth, co-founder of RiseUp Recovery; and Jane Neumiller-Bustad with the United Way’s Helping Kids Succeed initiative.

They’ll be addressing substance use in Hastings and Dakota County; show what illicit fentanyl and its variants look like; explain how young people are getting illicit fentanyl; describe the signs of an opioid (fentanyl) overdose; explain the use of Narcan (naloxone) to treat overdoses; give suggestions on how to talk to with children, teens, and young adults; and offer treatment and recovery options. There will be time for Q& A with the speakers.

These fall educational sessions are the result of extensive collaboration between UWH, parents, city and county governments/law enforcement, the faith community, healthcare community, school district, recovery community and others. They follow the very successful 3-part educational series on illicit fentanyl and opioids presented by UWH in April and May of this year.

Further details are at: https://unitedwayofhastings.o rg/site/onepillcankill/ or on the UWH Facebook page: nitedWayHastings. Questions can also be addressed to the United Way of Hastings at 651-438-3337.

November 23, 2022