The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that has affected millions of people across the nation. Opioids are a highly-addictive class of drugs that are meant to relieve severe pain. Opioids include heroin, an illegal drug, and synthetic drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine. After an increase of opioids being prescribed in the 90s, the number of opioid overdoses began to skyrocket. Today, the addiction has taken over the nation.
A poll released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2018 revealed that nearly one third of all Americans know someone who was or is addicted to opioids or prescription pain killers.The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that in 2017, 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder.
The same report showed that 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose in 2017. The time is now to gain an understanding of opioids and how serious the epidemic truly is. Spreading awareness is an important step towards slowing down this epidemic in its tracks and saving lives.
But before that is a possibility, we must understand the effect of the opioid fentanyl.
The U.S. Opioid Epidemic’s Third Wave: Fentanyl-Related Deaths
Fentanyl is a drug that’s unknown to most Americans, but it plays a large part in the current opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It’s often prescribed to manage a patient’s severe pain, for example, when dealing with the treatment of cancer or after surgery.
Some of the street names include, “Apace”, “China Girl”, “China Town”, “China White”, “Dance Fever”, “Goodfellas”, and “Poison”. It can also be disguised as highly-potent heroin. Some of the symptoms that are experienced after taking the drug include a short-term, intense high, feelings of euphoria, reduced blood pressure, nausea, fainting, seizures, and death.
Usage of the drug has gone up dramatically in recent years. In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl. In 2010, the number was only 14.3%. Since fentanyl is often a cheaper option than most drugs, drug dealers are mixing the substance with drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and MDMA. And most don’t understand the severity of this.
This leads to more overdoses.
Users are not aware of what drugs they are buying and what they are putting into their bodies, which also leads to more overdoses. The usage of fentanyl is affecting users across the nation and leading to a horrific number of overdoses. The news stories featured below showcase a small fraction of the effect that fentanyl is having in America.
1 Dead And 12 Hospitalized After Mass Drug Overdose in California
In a house in Chico, California, 12 people were hospitalized after ingesting a form of fentanyl combined with another substance. In an effort to save those involved, officers began to administer CPR and naloxone, which is a drug used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. This mass overdose led to one person succumbing to their injuries and four people in critical condition. Most of the people involved in this mass overdose appeared to be in their 20s, while all of them appeared to be over the age of 18.
Chief: Meth, Cocaine Laced with Fentanyl to Blame for Overdose Spike
Police Chief Tom Synan of Hamilton County, Ohio, declares that methamphetamine and cocaine laced with fentanyl are to blame for a recent spike in drug overdoses. The county issued out a public health alert proclaiming that in the last week there had been an increase of 911 dispatch and emergency room visits. 15 people overdosed within that week. The public health alert contained a variety of tips to prevent a drug overdose, including avoiding mixing drugs (and alcohol) and to call 911 after every overdose, including when naloxone has been administered.
Fentanyl: Billionaire Drug Company Founder Guilty of Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Dangerous Opioid
John Kapoor, the founder of a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical company entitled Insys, was found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe a spray form of fentanyl to their patients even though they may not have needed it. To boost the product’s credibility, Insys paid more than $1 million for doctors to falsely promote the product at events. The company’s aggressive marketing ploys led to sales of the product reaching $500 million in 2017. Five years before that, its sales were only $14 million. Dr. Kapoor and his co-defendants deny any wrongdoing. He is currently facing 20 years in prison.
7 Drug Overdoses Over 10-hour Period Possibly Linked to Fentanyl, KCK Police Say
Police Chief Terry Zeigler, of Kansas City, Kansas, believes that the sudden boost of drug overdoses could be linked to a drug with a combination of fentanyl and cocaine. The city experienced 7 drug overdoses over a 10-hour period. The police report that there was not a specific area of town where the drug overdoses happen; they were “spread out.”
Lacey Man Charged with Selling Lethal Heroin-Fentanyl Mix
Charles Rice, a 58-year-old man from Lacey, Washington, was charged with selling a drug with a mix of heroin and fentanyl, that lead to a 25-year-old man’s fatal overdose. Rice is also charged with distribution of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of heroin. Toxicology results that were given to the prosecutor’s office revealed that the fentanyl caused the 25-year-old’s death. The 58-year-old man is currently pending a detention hearing.
August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event dedicated to promoting education, action, and prevention of drug overdoses. The event hopes to reduce the stigma surrounding drug-related illnesses and open the lines of communication, leading to more people seeking help for their addictions.
The event also acknowledges those who have lost loved ones to a drug addiction. During Overdose Awareness Day, and throughout the month of August, millions of people across the globe raise awareness of drug overdoses and save lives in the process.
The importance of Overdose Awareness Day is to remind everyone that drug overdoses are completely preventable.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that every day, more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose. If you are struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to remember that the choice to recover is in your hands.
Drug and alcohol treatment is just a phone call away, and they can offer the tools that you or a loved one need to get rid of their opioid addiction for good. They also offer many kinds of care for you to utilize including inpatient and outpatient care. Inpatient care often provides 24-hour care in a live-in facility and includes medical support and psychiatric support.
Outpatient treatment allows people to stay at home and maintain their daily routine (work, school, etc.) Each provides different benefits depending on the care that you’re hoping to obtain. Whichever route you choose, remember that you’re not alone. You don’t have to be a statistic, and the road to recovery starts with a single step.