WEST PALM BEACH, Fla — This week, in our special Addicted Florida report, CBS12 News told you about a new, powerful synthetic opioid making its way onto our streets that the DEA calls the most serious drug threat in the area.
Florida ranks second in the nation for overdose deaths, according to the CDC.
Now the opioid epidemic is even making itself felt in afterlife care.
Like emergency room doctors and EMTs, funeral directors are seeing more overdose deaths these days and it’s a potentially deadly threat for those who call themselves last responders.
What you may not realize is those bodies can put funeral home employees at risk of exposure to dangerous synthetic drugs, like Isotonitaneze or fentanyl.
Funeral home director Jason Fuller and his staff members need to wear protective gear in case they’re exposed to these deadly drugs when transferring a body or in the embalming process.
“That’s just to protect the embalmer, to protect the public, in case there is a viewing or funeral and to protect the families as well. For so many, it’s a shock to them. It’s a surprise,” Jason Fuller, a funeral director at Broward Funeral Choices Funeral Home, told CBS12 News Thursday.
He says they are seeing an increase in the number of opioid-related deaths.
“We’re seeing it occur in more of the younger population and it has been such an increase. It’s sad to say, substantially.”
More than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, according to the CDC
Two-thirds of those involved powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl and isotonitaneze – or iso.
Drugs that can be so potent, Fuller and his staff need to keep Narcan on hand, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
For all those reasons, Fuller is now partnering with the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society to educate our community about the resources available to fight addiction and to encourage doctors to look for alternatives before prescribing strong opioids.