Overdose involving opioid drugs killed three Washington State University students in the closing months of 2016. All three were men in their 20s.
Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said the deaths of Nader Shihadeh, Alex Callaway and Brock Lindberg are symptoms of the nationwide opioid epidemic.
“These three stand out because they’re college students, but numerous others have died because of this,” Myers said.
Meth remains the most common illicit drug on the Palouse, he said, but in recent years he’s seen a surge in the use of pharmaceutical-grade drugs like fentanyl, an opioid hundreds of times more powerful than heroin.
According to the Pullman Police Department, seven people died of opioid overdoses in Whitman County from 2013 to 2015. Last month, the department announced that officers would begin carrying naloxone, a life-saving drug that reverses overdoses by blocking opioid receptors in the brain.
Shihadeh, a 25-year-old from Willmette, Illinois, died of a fentanyl overdose Nov. 26, according to the Whitman County Coroner’s Office.
In the October deaths of Callaway and Lindberg, the coroner’s office identified a combination of opioid drugs and the active ingredient in Xanax, a commonly abused anxiety medication.
Lindberg, a 21-year-old from Wenatchee, had taken methadone, a narcotic prescribed to quell the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, according to the coroner’s office.
The opioid that contributed to Callaway’s death was not identified. He was a 27-year-old from Auburn, Alabama.
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