Fentanyl Fueling Overdose Epidemic

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Fentanyl Fueling Overdose Epidemic

Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths in 2016. Together, they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that’s killing people faster than the HIV epidemic at its peak, according to The New York Times.

Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller originally used to help end stage cancer patients, has been a significant threat to public health and safety for sometime. And now the extent of it has been revealed nationally. Numbers place deaths involving synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, at 20,000 – just three years ago, it was 3,000. And it’s not just happening in rural areas; the death rate in Maryland last year outpaced both Kentucky and Maine, according to the national data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics.

According to experts, part of the reason for the spike in deaths is that it takes a much smaller amount of fentanyl to cause an overdose than heroin. Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product — with or without the user’s knowledge — to increase its euphoric effects. 

More Scary Facts About Fentanyl

  • Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
  • Fentanyl is so powerful officers are warned not to even handle it with their bare hands or field test it, because one touch could be fatal.
  • Fentanyl overdoses require four to five doses of naloxone — a drug that effectively reverses the effect — to work compared to the one or two needed for heroin.
  • Fentanyl withdrawal can take up to two months to get over.

Treating Opioid Addiction
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