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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fentanyl crisis speech set for Gonzaga on Tuesday

Spokane health care leaders have warned this year about a rise in fentanyl drug use and deaths from overdoses. Across the U.S., drug overdose deaths have reached record highs among teens and adults.

Offering tips to protect people from illicitly made fentanyl, an expert is scheduled to speak on the topic at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the Gonzaga University campus. Advance registration is required at

“The Fentanyl Crisis: How to Keep Loved Ones Safe,” features Caleb Banta-Green, acting professor in psychiatry and behavioral health sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He’s an executive sponsor of Washington state’s Opioid Overdose Response Plan and served as a science adviser on overdose response to the director of the White House drug policy office.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and roughly 100 times stronger than morphine. Banta-Green plans to address why it’s become so popular, and the reasons behind it being so deadly.

He expects to cover how people can protect loved ones and support health in the community.

A Q&A will follow Banta-Green’s talk. He will be joined by Misty Challinor, division director for treatment services at Spokane Regional Health District; Dr. Caleb Holtzer, a family physician from Providence Health & Services in Chewelah; and Dr. Amy Burns, a psychiatrist affiliated with Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. The group will discuss illicit fentanyl use in the Spokane area.

An affiliate professor at the UW School of Public Health, Banta-Green is regularly quoted in national and local news media about drugs, addictions and their impact, including most recently in The New York Times.

The speech is scheduled as an in-person event at the Hemmingson Center. For those who register and can’t attend, they’ll receive a link to the recording.