State cautions against use of illicit medications

Opioid-antagonist and training available

Carson City June 09, 2021

Today, the Nevada Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) program announced that accidental drug overdose deaths in Nevada increased 37% from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020.

Information from the Nevada State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) show deaths increased from 263 to 359 for the January through June time periods in 2019 and 2020. Fentanyl overdoses nearly tripled in the first part of 2020.

While there is some risk with prescribed opioids, counterfeit pills can be deadly.

Deaths attributed to benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs that act as depressants, doubled during this time period (from 44 to 88). Deaths attributed to gabapentin, which are drugs that prevent and control seizures and prescribed for nerve pain, almost tripled during this time period (from 10 to 29). However, it is difficult to determine if these deaths were a result of prescription drug diversion or due to illicitly-pressed pills.

The OD2A program cautions Nevadans against taking pills that do not come from a pharmacy and if they are not prescribed to you.

In Nevada communities of color are disproportionally impacted, overdose in the Hispanic community increased 220% from 2019 to 2020.

“These are troubling trends. We must redouble our efforts to keep our communities, families and friends safe. Taking medications that are not prescribed to you can be dangerous, especially if that medication may contain harmful substances that you may not be aware of,” said Dr. Stephanie Woodard, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Senior Advisor on Behavioral Health. “The opioid overdose antidote, Naloxone, is available free in communities statewide and I encourage Nevadans to learn about this life-saving resource.”

Fatal overdose is avoidable and in Nevada Naloxone can be obtained without a prescription. In the first half of 2020 there was a bystander present in 48% of fatal overdoses.

If an overdose occurs call 9-1-1 immediately. In 2015, Nevada adopted the Good Samaritan Overdose law. This law protects an individual from prosecution for many narcotic-related offenses when seeking medical assistance for another person for a drug-related emergency.

The Nevada State Opioid Response grant supports statewide Naloxone distribution. Information about Naloxone and trainings to use the opioid-antagonist can be found through

Nevadans are encouraged to reach out to the following resources if they are looking for Naloxone or treatment resources:

Crisis Support Services of Nevada
Text: IMREADY to 839863

NAMI Peer Support Warm Line

Treatment Connections - Treatment Finder
National Drug Helpline


Shannon Litz
Public Information Officer, Director's Office