7 Reasons To Seek Addiction Treatment
Substance use disorder, which is more colloquially known as drug addiction, is a serious mental...
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a public warning that prescription pills being sold via social media could potentially be laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl. After several reports of Americans dying from taking what they believed to be opioid pills, such as oxycodone, the DEA is urging the public to remain on high alert.
Fentanyl is about 50-100 times stronger than morphine—and up to 50 times stronger than heroin, which is already potent enough to be lethal. Initially developed to help cancer patients manage severe pain, fentanyl has more recently emerged as a significant threat to public health when used recreationally, as it is strong enough to kill someone with just a few milligrams.
The powerful synthetic opioid has been responsible in numerous overdose related deaths over the past several years, and although official data for 2020 is not yet available, it is believed that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has accelerated addictions and overdoses throughout the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued preliminary statements that estimate that 87,000 people in the US died of a drug overdose last year.
That number could potentially increase to over 90,000 once data has been fully analyzed. If that happens, the total number of overdose deaths in 2020 would surpass figures from 2019 by nearly 20,000.
As the pandemic persists and countless people continue to suffer the effects of isolation and loss, it is a critical time for the public to remain hyper vigilant about warnings from the DEA and other officials. In times of high stress, and even desperation, it can be all-too-easy to ignore signs and signals of events that are happening around us.
Counterfeit pills can be made to look exactly like the drug that they are mimicking, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between a true prescription drug and an imposter that could be potentially laced with a deadly substance. In 2019, fentanyl-related deaths specifically reached an all-time high of 36,000 deaths in a 12-month period, further proving the tremendous risk that the drug poses to a person’s health.
In a report for NBC News, a DEA agent, Ray Donovan, noted that drug traffickers lace pills with fentanyl because, “it’s cheap, it’s synthetic, it’s easy to make, and it’s so lucrative.” Donovan also stated that 1 in 4 pills seized by the DEA “has enough fentanyl to pose the risk of death.”
The DEA warns that these particular counterfeit pills appear to be targeted toward “casual” drug users, which might include younger teens and others who do not have a consistent habit of taking drugs. Growing up during the opioid crisis, today’s teenagers have easier access to obtain drugs, particularly via social media—where many of these fatal transactions have been traced back to.
The Effects of Fentanyl
Fentanyl’s super-potency makes it work much faster than heroin, making the potential for overdose almost instantaneous. After a person takes the drug, their breathing can slow to the point of overdose or death. Naloxone can be administered to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in an emergency, but even if the person survives, they can be left with irreversible damage to their health.
With celebrities like Demi Lovato coming forward to talk about being given heroin laced with fentanyl, and her own battle to stay sober after her near-fatal overdose, awareness surrounding this building threat to public health will continue to grow.
As the nation recovers from the pandemic, the opioid epidemic rages on—and it’s a critical time to check in with loved ones who are suffering from addiction or who have dealt with substance misuse in the past.
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