Fentanyl-Laced Prescription Drugs: A Rising Problem
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently warned the public about fake prescription drugs laced with fentanyl. Counterfeit pain and anxiety medications are being sold on the streets that actually contain fentanyl, a drug that is 25-50 times stronger than heroin. The pills are being disguised as common prescription drugs such as Percocet, Norco and Xanax, and are much cheaper than the real versions. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that some of these pills are manufactured in China and then smuggled into the United States.
Many communities are warning the public about the counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. In March 2016, street Norco pills laced with fentanyl were responsible for at least 12 fatal overdoses in Sacramento County in just 48 hours. The situation in Sacramento County has gotten so serious that the public health department has started releasing overdose and death updates three times a week.
Deaths caused by fentanyl-laced heroin have skyrocketed throughout the nation. Law enforcement officials have found that illicit varieties of fentanyl from Mexico and China are flooding the streets. Fentanyl began showing up laced in heroin around 2014, but by 2015, drug dealers were selling pure fentanyl disguised as heroin.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an anesthetic and an analgesic used to manage severe pain after surgery. It is also commonly used to treat chronic pain. In recent years, the United States has seen fentanyl-laced heroin pop up around the country. Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin to get a longer lasting high, but unfortunately, fentanyl is often the cause of overdose due to its high potency.
The side effects of fentanyl include: nausea and vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness and deadly overdose. Fentanyl overdoses can be reversed if Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug, is administered promptly. In many states, naloxone is being distributed to injection drug users and other laypersons to use in case of an overdose.
What to Do About this Deadly Trend?
The DEA’s current plan to fight the fentanyl trend is to use traditional methods of disrupting drug cartel operations. The DEA also plans to educate the public and promote awareness about the dangers of fentanyl. On April 30, 2016, the DEA hosted National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This initiative is successful both in urging Americans to get rid of their prescription drugs and as a way to educate the public about the dangers of prescription pills. The DEA and CDC are also trying to communicate with the medical community about safer prescribing methods. In March 2016, the CDC issued its first guidelines for limiting the availability of prescription painkillers. They urged medical professionals to rely on non-opioid options if possible and to limit the amount of pills in opioid prescriptions.
Help is Available
Addiction is a chronic, progressive and fatal disease if left untreated, but there is hope. If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, help is available and recovery is possible at The Treatment Center. Addiction does not have to be a life sentence. With the appropriate treatment and support, you, too, can recover from your addiction and thrive in recovery. For additional information on how we can help you, call us now at (877) 392-3342.