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Public forum to discuss opioids in Marin County

A lethal dose of fentanyl
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
Flickr / Creative Commons
A lethal dose of fentanyl

This year's OD Free Marin forum "Working Together to Prevent Overdose" is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and will focus on collaborative strategies, resource sharing, and community action to help address the opioid overdose crisis in Marin County.

The county said in a statement Thursday that Marin County averages more than one fatal overdose each week. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death among Marin residents ages 55 and younger.

Kathy Koblick, Marin County's public health division director, said: "With the opioid overdose crisis continuing to impact our community, it is crucial that we come together to discuss collaborative approaches and share resources."

The county said participants in the forum can expect to hear perspectives from community partners and sector leaders, spanning health care and treatment providers, public health experts, nonprofit organizations, media specialists, and youth advocacy groups.

Much of the discussion will focus on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. While fentanyl is used to treat severe pain in clinical settings, it is also manufactured and distributed illegally, the county said.

Fentanyl is found in pills, powders, and liquids. Counterfeit pills sold as Xanax, Percocet, Oxycontin, Adderall and others can contain deadly doses of fentanyl. Similarly, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin may be laced with fentanyl, escalating the risk of overdose.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.