LANCASTER, Pa. — "Out of my little high school circle of friends, six out of seven of those guys are dead now," said Colin Suber.
Suber, who works as a program supervisor for The RASE Project in Lancaster County, has been around substance use disorder for the majority of his life.
He’s been in recovery for four years, and his mission to save lives is personal.
"We're seeing things like fentanyl in every street drug from marijuana to heroin," he said.
Overdose deaths are on the rise across central Pennsylvania.
In Lancaster County, overdose deaths have increased for the last two years, according to the Department of Health.
In 2019, 99 Lancaster County residents died from an overdose. A year later in 2020, that number increased to 143.
It increased yet again last year, when 150 Lancaster County residents died from an overdose.
"What we've seen in the last two years is a huge challenge," said Joshua Parsons, vice-chairman of the Lancaster County Commissioners. "We've also seen a rise in fentanyl and fentanyl deaths."
At The RASE Project, Suber and his team provide services for those who are in recovery.
In honor of PA Prevention Week, they're hosting a free NARCAN giveaway on Friday, May 13.
"NARCAN has brought me back to life on more than one occasion," Suber said.
NARCAN is a medication that can reverse an opioid emergency if someone is overdosing.
Suber says this is an item that should be in everyone's first aid kit.
"You really don't know when an overdose situation can happen," he said.
While there are many factors that are leading to the spike in overdose deaths, Parsons says COVID-19 has definitely played a role.
"Obviously people throughout the lockdown [and] throughout the last two years – it's been a really big challenge, [and] we've seen an increase in mental health issues," he said.
The RASE Project's free Narcan Giveaway is on Friday, May 13 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at 131 E. Orange Street in Lancaster.