Opioid use disorder is a treatable mental illness; those who undergo treatment and commit themselves to working a program of recovery can lead productive lives. While useful forms of treatment are available, many find it difficult to seek help due to the intense cravings typical of opioid addiction. Everything that public health officials can do, must be done, to encourage as many people as possible to seek addiction treatment—the risk of overdose death is notoriously high.
Many of you are probably aware that the likelihood of fentanyl exposure among heroin addicts is exceedingly high. With each year that passes, more and more people succumb to fentanyl exposure, an analgesic that is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50-80 times stronger than average batches of heroin. When people cut heroin with fentanyl, the result is a deadly cocktail. In fact, research shows that fentanyl-related deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2016.
One of the reasons fentanyl is more prevalent than ever is because cartels in Mexico can synthesize the drug with ease. Drug cartels acquire the necessary precursors from Asia and then chemists south of the border manufacture the hazardous substance. Once in powder form, the drugs is either stamped into pills disguised as highly coveted OxyContin or cut into batches of heroin to boost potency. In either case, opioid users on this side of the border have no way of knowing that the drug they are about to ingest, smoke, snort, or inject contains the presence of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is Everywhere
So just how likely is it that people will come in contact with fentanyl? Highly likely! The drug made the headline once again after a Nebraska State Trooper pulled over a truck hauling 118 pounds of the deadly substance, CNN reports. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that 2 milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose; a little math shows that there was enough fentanyl confiscated to kill roughly 26 million people.
“This year is going to be a banner year, a record year in a bad way, in overdose deaths in the United States,” said Matthew Barden, an associate special agent with the DEA.
Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the deadly symptoms of an overdose; unfortunately, fentanyl is so potent that it often doesn’t work and people die. When a fentanyl overdose is reversed, first responders often have to give victims multiple doses of the drug. Pharmacies sell naloxone under the name Narcan. Fentanyl is only going to be more prevalent in the coming years. Anyone caught in the destructive cycle of opioid use disorder should seek help immediately and begin working a program of addiction recovery.
Southern California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea can assist anyone struggling with an opioid use disorder. We can help you end the cycle of addiction, please contact us today.