Cross-sector Task Force to address overdose announced

Group will define immediate solutions to reduce the risks for overdose and prepare for responses

Carson City October 05, 2022

Today, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced that, in coordination with Governor Steve Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford, a task force will be created to address the increasing rates of fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

The need for the task force was outlined earlier this week at the AG’s Substance Use Response Working Group (SURG) meeting and the DHHS Advisory Committee for a Resilient Nevada (ACRN) by Dr. Stephanie Woodard, Senior Advisor on Behavioral Health for DHHS.

As reported by Overdose Data to Action, emergency department visits suspected of opioid-related overdoses increased by 66% from July 2022 to August 2022. In the same time period, suspected stimulant-related overdose emergency department visits increased by 50%. Additional data is available online at

Fentanyl test strips are available in Nevada. Fentanyl is an inexpensive drug that is now pervasive in the national illicit drug supply and it has been found in heroin and stimulants, like methamphetamine and cocaine.

The Joint Advisory Task Force will:
• Determine necessary action to reduce the risk of overdose in Nevada’s communities
• Prepare responses for the State and local jurisdictions in the event an increase in overdoses occurs
• Provide technical assistance, guidance, and resources to rapidly implement best practices to reduce risk for overdoses, enhance capacity to respond to events, and recover should such overdose events occur

The SURG is responsible for studying and evaluating Nevada’s substance misuse and substance use disorder prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery efforts and developing recommendations to improve Nevada's substance use prevention and response efforts. The ACRN is responsible for providing guidance on the statewide needs assessment and statewide plan establishing the priority areas for the allocation of the Fund for a Resilient Nevada.

ACRN and SURG are statutorily defined and comprised of subject matter experts across public health, behavioral health, law enforcement, prevention and individuals with lived experience. The Task Force will include the full membership of both groups.

What should people know about overdose?
• Know the signs: Small, constricted pupils; falling asleep or loss of consciousness; slow, shallow breathing; choking or gurgling sounds; pale blue, cold skin, limp body.
• Overdose doesn’t have to be fatal: Administer Naloxone, call for medical help
• Fentanyl is a lethal drug: Fentanyl is an inexpensive drug that is now pervasive in the national illicit drug supply. Fentanyl has been found in heroin, and stimulants, like meth and cocaine.
• If someone is going to use, they should be testing their drugs: It is impossible to tell if fentanyl is in a drug just by looking at it.

Where are fentanyl test strips or Naloxone available?
• Find Fentanyl Test Strips:
• Find Naloxone: 


Shannon Litz
Public Information Officer, Department of Health and Human Services