Fentanyl driving opioid deaths in Central Florida, experts say

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Opioid deaths are taking hold across Central Florida.

On Wednesday, Project Opioid said between 80% and 90% of overdoses are caused by the dangerous drug fentanyl. Experts said people are taking the drug thinking it’s something else, and the consequences are deadly.

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Andre Bailey, founder and CEO of Project Opioid said overdoses are rising at an unprecedented rate. The increases are in almost every community in Central Florida, and fentanyl is driving this crisis.

READ: Parents charged after daughter, 2, dies of fentanyl overdose, deputies say

Project Opioid found that fentanyl is being mixed into just about every drug including marijuana, cocaine and heroin in addition to pills.

Sheriff Dennis Lemma said to combat the issue, drug dealers need to face stiffer penalties. He is working with lawmakers in Tallahassee to do just that.

READ: Fentanyl-laced marijuana fueling Connecticut overdoses, police say

Officials with Project Opioid told me this was predominantly an issue that affected the white population, but they are now seeing more people in the Black community overdosing on opioids.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.