By Adrienne Moore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County is taking a new approach to combat the growing fentanyl epidemic.

It’s an issue so problematic, authorities say the rate of fentanyl-related deaths is now higher than homicides.

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County leaders will soon be handing out free Narcan, an emergency nasal spray treatment for opioid overdose, and people can learn how to use it. It’s all a part of a much larger event at the California State Capitol on Saturday that authorities say should be a real wake-up call for our community.

“This stuff can kill and it is killing us, so we really need to be prepared,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said in a Zoom interview.

That preparation: breeding a prevention pivot by putting a potentially life-saving drug directly in the hands of the public.

“[Narcan] is something that you have to have readily available because it can happen fast,” Schubert said.

Schubert and dozens of other organizations a free Fentanyl Awareness Safety Fair on the Capitol’s north lawn, where Narcan will be handed out for free.

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“When you have 186 people that have died from fentanyl poisoning since January 2020, that’s very, very significant and what we’re trying to do is raise awareness,” Schubert said.

Schubert said her crime lab found a shocking number of pills labeled as Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax and Adderall were counterfeit.

“Ninety-eight percent of the drugs coming into our lab, which look real, are fake,” Schubert said. “And of [that] 98% of those pills, they have fentanyl in them.”

Schubert said getting the pills is as easy as ordering a pizza, and she believes that by re-thinking the way to reach people, authorities can stop a troubling trend from getting worse.”

“We do have an epidemic of fentanyl in our community, and people need to know how dangerous it is and how quickly it can kill somebody,” Schubert said.

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The Fentanyl Awareness Safety Fair runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Family members who lost a loved one to a fentanyl overdose will also be speaking at the event.

Adrienne Moore