AUGUSTA, Ga. –
It is the leading cause of death among 31- to 51-year-olds in Augusta-Richmond County.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, fentanyl-related deaths are increasing.

In honor of National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Serenity Behavioral Health Systems took the time to educate the public.

Fox 54 had the opportunity to learn firsthand how dangerous and deadly this drug can be.

Timothy Stephens says he used to abuse almost every drug on the market.

“I had already had my second failed marriage, I was pretty much homeless. In my head I was thinking, 'Hey, you've lost everyone, this doctor obviously cares about you, so why screw this up, just go to a recovery meeting,'” Stephens said

Now Stephens, who has been drug-free for over a decade, is the founder of the nonprofit Augusta Recovery Alliance.

The goal: to help people facing the challenges he once faced.

Stephens says: “I had a beer left for that night and I felt like it was October 18, 2012, I just threw it in the trash and said I'm going to do my best and I didn't have a drink or a drink Drank beer.” Drug since then. The only way I know how to preserve it is to get involved with others and show them the way out.”

The use of fentanyl is increasing and is found in almost all counterfeit medicines.

“At the moment the results suggest that it could potentially be present in any illicit drug currently found in the county. We can only speculate that perhaps this is because manufacturing is cheaper and people are mass producing counterfeit pills,” said Beverly Brown, a public health analyst on opioids.

Chuck Williamson of Serenity Behavioral Health says the most important thing right now is education.

“The street is drugging the synthetic stuff, it's killing people, and we just need to make people aware of it,” Williamson said. “It's a big problem, we have to take it very seriously and address it. Education, education is the most important thing.”

That's why Serenity hosted a Fentanyl Awareness Day to educate the community about the dangers of this drug and how to help combat this problem.

One of the most important things that can help is having Narcan on hand at all times and knowing how to use it.

You can get free Narcan at the Georgia Department of Public Health in Augusta while supplies are available.

Life-saving information in the fight against an ever-growing problem.

“At Augusta Recovery Alliance, our motto is: The best is yet to come, and given the enthusiasm for recovery, the best is yet to come,” Stephens said.