Overdose deaths main topic of conversation at mental health conference on Las Vegas Strip

Overdose deaths main topic of conversation at mental health conference on Las Vegas Strip

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– The Nevada Psychiatric Association Mental Health Conference took place last week and one of the main topics of discussion was the rising rate of overdose deaths.

The annual Nevada Psychiatric Association Conference took place on the Las Vegas Strip and it brought psychiatrists and medical experts together to talk about mental health and ways to combat dangerous drug use.

In recent years, opioid use has become an epidemic and according to recent data from the Southern Nevada Health District, there were over a hundred fentanyl deaths from January to July 2022.

George Gatski, CEO of Desert Hope Treatment Center shared with 8 News Now what he has seen at his facility. As a recovering addict, who has been clean for 31 years, he feels these drugs have not only become stronger but more readily accessible to the masses.

“We are getting people who are coming in with fentanyl as their drug of choice which is really scary because you could take a penny sized and it can kill you,” Gatski said. “Back in the day when I got clean, there wasn’t fentanyl. We’ve had to raise the bar.”

A new proposed state bill, that has already been enacted in some states, would allow people to use illegal injectable drugs safely at designated locations to keep them from overdosing. These are known as safe injection sites.

However, the former assistant secretary of health and human services for mental health and substance explained that any type of drug use is unsafe no matter where it is used.

“What we’ve seen is flooding into the country is counterfeit pills, that have fentanyl and street opioids,” Elinore McCance Katz, addiction psychiatrist said.

In recent years fentanyl strips have been designed to detect the drug in street-bought opiates and methadone clinics are available to those struggling with addiction.

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