BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — The opioid epidemic continues to be a huge issue across Bay County. 

Sheriff’s investigators say they believe many of these lethal drugs are being brought across the southern border.

Lieutenant David Higgins with the Bay County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division said so far this year there have been 261 overdoses in Bay County. 27 of those were fatal.

“It doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, or how much money you make,” Higgins said.

He said fentanyl is the big killer.

“The problem we are having with heroin is that fentanyl is being mixed in with it,” Higgins said. “We also are having problems with pills. People think they are getting a Xanax or an oxycontin from some random person and it ends up having fentanyl in it.”

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Higgins said BCSO is working with federal agencies to combat the problem.

But in the day-to-day fight, Higgins says deputies have used Narcan to save people 176 times so far this year.

“The problem that we are seeing is someone will overdose, they’ll go to the hospital, walk out of the hospital and then go get high again,” Higgins said. “We’ve had to Narcan people twice in one day. It’s like they’re not listening.”

Payam Parchamazad, the Pharmacy Supervisor at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, said addiction can often start after a person has a minor injury like a sprained ankle or they have wisdom teeth surgery and they are prescribed oxycontin. Then they find those prescription drugs lying around in their homes and take them when they aren’t directed to. 

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So in an effort to end the opioid crisis in our area, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center will hold their ‘Crush the Crisis’ event on Saturday.

“The community brings their expired and unused prescription drugs and drops them off and it is anonymous,” Parchamazad said. 

In 2020 they collected 500 pounds of opioids in this event. This year they hope to top that and stop the crisis.

“So we just want a big turnout for everyone to feel comfortable to come, just drop it off and drive away,” Parchamazad said. 

The drug collection runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the outpatient surgery entrance. They encourage people to bring all opioids and narcotics. They are not accepting lancets, needles, or syringes.