Fentanyl: It May Be Just as Bad as Heroin

You may remember the upwelling of overdose deaths that swept through some of the largest cities in the country – Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago – 10 years ago, which came to a sudden halt when agents from Mexican raided a secret laboratory just outside of the capital that had allegedly manufactured large amounts of a tremendously potent opioid known as fentanyl. The powerful drug, which is used medically for pain relief, had infected the country’s heroin supply. That single bust seemed to have a huge impact.

Now, amid a revolutionary opioid crisis, fentanyl seems to have begun to rival heroin as a culprit in overdose deaths, and it doesn’t seem as though shutting down one little lab is going to do any good. Not only is the drug being manufactured in Mexico, but that a drug equivalent to it and being called acetyl fentanyl is being produced in China reports the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Drug traffickers are taking illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) and mixing it with heroin. Apparently, the result can be deadly, especially for individuals who believe that they are taking a drug that is a less powerful opioid, as some drug traffickers are choosing to substitute prescription opioids or heroin with the IMF without them knowing about it. IMF has the ability to significantly depress the user’s respiratory system in just minutes. It is between 20 and 100 times more potent than heroin itself.

This is a serious public health crisis that cannot be controlled by law enforcement. This drug war, which is causing addicts to go to the street to get their fix, appears to have caused it.

Roughly 66% of more than 400 fatal drug overdoses in New Hampshire in 2015 were fentanyl-related. In one county in Ohio, heroin-related deaths had decreased by over seven percent. Unfortunately, fentanyl-related deaths almost tripled and were very close to reaching 100. In fact, almost half of them involved both fentanyl and heroin. Then, in Maine, almost one-third of all drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl. In West Virginia, 25 percent of the last year’s drug overdose deaths were fentanyl-related, coming in behind heroin and oxycodone.

It wasn’t until 2013 that fentanyl seizures and deaths became evident. They increased the following year. It appears that IMF is being mixed with heroin for greater potency. Traffickers are selling it as heroin, which means that the individuals that are dying from the drug are predominately users of heroin. Unfortunately, most of these heroin users have no idea that they’re being exposed to such a potent and deadly drug.

The DEA says that most crime labs and coroners don’t test on a routine basis for fentanyl and the CDC has released nationwide fatal overdose figures yet, so it is hard to get specific statistics. However, we do know that fentanyl is becoming so popular because it is stronger and cheaper. These are the same reasons that caused prescription opioid users of OxyContin to switch to heroin over the past several years. The only difference with fentanyl is that it isn’t the users who are deciding to switch, it is the drug traffickers who are out to increase profits. This decreases the chances of detection by the proper authorities.

Currently, it only seems like drug traffickers are using heroin to mix IMF with. However, what’s going to happen when they decide to use a more powerful drug, such as crystal meth. Heroin is dangerous enough, especially for the users when they’re not expecting they increase potency.

If you are going through fentanyl addiction, there is no better time than right now to reach out to us and talk about your recovery options. We can help you through the detoxification process, help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and then help you get your life back on track with behavioral therapy. We won’t leave you in the dark, and you aren’t expected to do it alone. If you’re ready to talk about moving forward with your life, contact us at 800-203-8249.

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