COLUMBUS, Kan. — The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is using social media to ramp up efforts to increase fentanyl awareness.

Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves says the demographic most affected by fentanyl ranges from 18-year-olds to 45-year-olds.

He also adds that the drug was recently listed as the leading cause of death among that age group.

“The slogan is One pill can kill. And we’ve seen that here in the county. And throughout the region where somebody has taken what is a counterfeit prescription pill, they think it’s a Xanax or a person or OxyContin, and it turns out to be a counterfeit pill that contains a small amount of fentanyl,” said David Groves, Cherokee County Sheriff.

And Groves says it’s not just the counterfeit pills they are seeing.

“Between 2020 and 2022, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has seen a 900% increase in submissions that have tested positive for that and also even other illicit drugs here in Kansas. That includes marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine. Those types of drugs also are containing amounts of fentanyl,” said Groves.

Cherokee County paramedic Randy Holtz says this drug can affect everyone.

“Parents think that my kid would never do something like that. And then it’s hard on them when they find out he’s overdosed. And if the child’s overdose and died because of it, then it’s a reality check for the parents that we should have paid more attention,” said Randy Holtz, Cherokee County paramedic.