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HomeNewsMore Than Meets the Eye: The Heroin, Prescription Pills and Fentanyl Epidemic

More Than Meets the Eye: The Heroin, Prescription Pills and Fentanyl Epidemic

Opiate Deaths on the Rise

Deaths from opiate overdoses have steadily been on the rise in the past few years. In the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control, there were about 47,055 drug injury-related deaths due to drug overdoses in 2014. In the same year, 18,893 of this number died from a heroin overdose. The highest death rate for heroin-related overdose deaths are between the age of 18 and 25. Today, these numbers are skyrocketing due to an often deadly mix of heroin and/or prescription pills and the drug, Fentanyl.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic analgesic used to manage severe and chronic pain. Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Fentanyl is most commonly mixed with heroin and cocaine to get a longer lasting high, but it is increasingly becoming the cause of more overdose related deaths due to Fentanyl’s high potency. To give you an idea of the potency of Fentanyl, to get the same effect as 10mg of Morphine, one would only need to consume 0.2mg of Fentanyl. Drug traffickers mostly get the drug from underground pharmaceutical labs in China then mix it with heroin or prescription pills and then distribute it to different parts of the world. Lacing prescription pills and heroin with Fentanyl is profitable for drug dealers due to the amount of money they save only having to add a fraction of Fentanyl to produce the same effect as the normal ingredients.

Rise in Opioid Deaths

With the increase in Fentanyl-laced heroin and prescription pills, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of opiate related deaths. At least 28,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2014, the highest number of deaths in U.S. history. Of those, fentanyl was involved in 5,554 fatalities, a 79 percent increase over 2013, according to a December CDC report. Some states have found to have more deaths than other states including, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. One of the most notable deaths recently was the accidental overdose by the musician Prince. Just in the first quarter of 2015, there were about 39 deaths in Baltimore, which spiked from 14 in 2014. In the first three months of the year, there were 73 fentanyl and heroin-related overdoses in Maryland. Overdose deaths in New Jersey have swelled, tripling in 2014 from 2013. It was reported that there were about 49 people in 2013 who died with fentanyl in their system which spiked to 143 people in 2014. Within a 12-day span in Sacramento, California in 2016, 10 people lost their life because of the Fentanyl laced prescription pill Norco. The deaths are occurring, in large part, because users will take the same amount of prescription pills laced with Fentanyl that they normally would consume and are overdosing due to the potency of the Fentanyl within the pills

What’s Being Done

Major crackdowns continue nationwide from the Drug Enforcement Agency on pharmacy theft and prescription fraud. In 2014, there were 3,344 reports of fraud from physicians and pharmacists. Also, the DEA has unclassified a brief in which they detail how they are identifying and pursuing the synthetic drugs origins from China to Canada and Mexico.

While the DEA tracks the origins of the drug, some states are requiring that first responders and emergency personnel carry the reverse opiate overdose drug, naloxone on them to prevent opiate overdoses. Additionally, with about 44,000 people dying every year in the United States from accidental overdose from opiates, the drugstore such as CVS and Walgreens are now getting involved. Just recently, CVS pharmacies announced that they will now be selling non-prescription naloxone in 14 states; Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. At Genesis Recovery, we are working hard to educate our clients on the potential dangers associated with relapse, specifically sounding the alarm regarding this hidden epidemic where one pill could be your last.

If someone you know is using heroin or any other opioid or harmful drugs, recovery is possible. Find help today by calling us at 877-707-6103. Our staff is glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By Carl Culver

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