Recently, the CDC released data that confirmed over 100,000 Americans had lost their lives to a drug overdose in the 12-month period between April 2020 and April 2021. This tragic record number of deaths due to drugs was driven, according to the report, to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but more so to the rise in fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl and Why is it Dangerous?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. It is similar to the opioid morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. While fentanyl is a prescription opioid often used to treat acute and chronic pain, it is also often manufactured illegally. It is this illegal and illicit use of fentanyl that has experts alarmed and has driven the rise in both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses.
While many individuals purchasing drugs like heroin off the street often receive drugs cut with fentanyl or may be specifically seeking fentanyl itself as a drug to purchase and use, the most concerning fact is that fentanyl is often used in illicit drugs that are not opioids. This means that individuals purchasing street drugs that are not opioids are often receiving drugs that contain fentanyl, unknowingly using them, and overdosing as a result.
Why Are Pills Being Laced with Fentanyl?
Typically, fentanyl is a cheap substance that is potent, causes an intense high, and therefore is being used in many substances sold on the street. Many people are purchasing what they think are prescription pills, such a Xanax and Adderall, believing these are actual prescriptions being sold illicitly. However, these are actually counterfeit pills. They are pills made to look like the real thing, pressed by drug dealers and sold as the real thing. The dangerous part is that they often contain fentanyl and can lead to deadly results. A user thinks they are taking an actual Xanax for anxiety or a college students takes what they think is Adderall to help them study at school, but in actuality are purchasing counterfeit pills, made on the street, that contain fentanyl. Because fentanyl is so potent and dangerous, many individuals ingest the substance and overdose.
Even more dangerous, the means by which these counterfeit pills are accessible is growing. Drug dealers have turned to social media, increasing the accessibility and ease by which someone can purchase them. They are becoming widely available through numerous social media platforms, and more accessible to younger and younger users. These fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills are being manufactured in mass by drug dealers or drug syndicates, falsely marketed on social media as real and legitimate prescriptions pills made by drug manufacturers, and available to millions.
Due to these factors, more and more Americans are purchasing these counterfeit pills, using them, and dying as a result. The isolation and stressors of the COVID-10 pandemic presented a perfect storm- more people stressed, turning to drugs to cope, believing they are using actual substances, and instead unknowingly ingesting the powerful and deadly drug fentanyl instead. Therefore, it is not surprising to see the fatal drug overdose numbers rise exponentially, and to expect the next 12-month period to get worse.
Dealing with an Addiction Epidemic
America is not dealing with an opioid crisis. It is dealing with a nationwide addiction epidemic. More and more Americans are dealing with a substance use disorder, and more and more Americans are finding themselves in the grips of full-blown addiction. Tragically, more and more Americans are also losing their lives to fatal drug overdoses. Fortunately, as a society, America is also becoming more and more aware of the dangerous nature of addiction, that addiction is a disease that requires treatment, and that addiction treatment works. Addiction is not a losing battle, but rather an opportunity to seek recovery. Most individuals that find and live in recovery from addiction will report that their lives in recovery are exponentially better than their lives in active addiction. They are happier. They are healthier. They are more productive. They have better relationships with their friends, family, and loved ones. And they have found a live not only worth living, but one filled with meaning and purpose.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.