Heroin and other opiates have been the leading perpetrators in the drug overdose crisis sweeping our country. While responsible for many lives lost, often times, other chemicals are being found in the individual’s toxicology report, as well as in their personal belongings and surroundings. Synthetic drugs have been appearing more frequently in news reports and personal stories of tragedy; where another person fell victim to a drug overdose. Fentanyl, for instance, although dating back to the 70’s, has been emerging in more and more of these cases.
Some may wonder why? Why now? What exactly is this drug and where is it coming from? Are the medical professionals solely responsible for Fentanyl getting in the hands of the wrong people? It would be easy enough to blame Big Pharma and pill-happy over-prescribing physicians, but that is not entirely the case. Yes, they have both played a role in contributing to the opioid epidemic, nevertheless, they cannot be held entirely responsible.
As regulations tighten and lawmakers sign new bills into place, “pill mills” are being shut down and over-prescribing has slowed. Prescription monitoring programs, such as the one here in Pennsylvania, have said to already seen success. While Pennsylvania’s monitoring program only began in June 2016, Blue Cross Highmark reports a steady decrease in reimbursement for highly addictive prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin.
Even with some steady progress, we surely still have an extremely long way to go. Monitoring prescriptions will not be enough; providing Naloxone to the public is not enough; medication-assisted treatment…not enough. We speak continuously of the strides made toward fighting against the influx of drugs, overdose, and death, yet one main contributor to all of this may be one we disregard, or blatantly ignore. And why? Could it be because it has been mentioned by a man so many personally disagree with? Could our ever-so-hated President Elect be on the right track with wanting to build a wall? Restricting and tightening our borders may be the answer, at least in terms of keeping out the drugs, like Fentanyl, that are killing our children.
Fentanyl By The Numbers
A highly addictive opioid, Fentanyl is known to be 50 times stronger than heroin. This highly potent substance has been making it’s way into the homes of many Americans for quite some time. Typically, the chemical has been known to be mixed or “cut” with heroin by dealers alike. While this is still true in many cases, several toxicology reports are coming back with only one drug in the individual’s system, Fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fentanyl related overdoses rose 72% between 2014 and 2015. While 2016 statistics have not been entirely accounted for, those we have heard thus far, only further demonstrate the ravenous nature of the drug. Take New Hampshire for instance. The office of the Chief Medical Examiner counted 159 deaths related ONLY to Fentanyl, compared to 2 heroin-related deaths, and 19 deaths involving both drugs in 2015. The office projects a 7% increase for 2016.
New Hampshire is not without company. The remainder of the New England states have experienced equally as harsh tallies, holding the “top spot” for highest fatal-overdose rates throughout the entire country. In the first half of 2016 alone, two thirds of drug-related deaths reported in Massachusetts, were said to have Fentanyl involved. Neighboring states, such as Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine, also show vast increases in Fentanyl overdoses and deaths. In our home state of Pennsylvania, overdose death rates rose 14-fold over the last 35 years. In 2015 alone, a staggering 3,500 died of drug overdoses, a 30% increase from 2014.
Chinese, Cartels, & Chemistry…
Like something out of a Breaking Bad episode, America’s infestation of drugs and ever increasing rate of death, is greatly attributed to laboratories throughout China and Mexico staffed by the Cartels’ finest. A large supply of the Fentanyl circulating throughout our neighborhoods is being manufactured illegally in Mexico and sent over our boarders.
In the Fusion documentary “Death by Fentanyl,” the investigation revealed many enlightening facts regarding the rise of Fentanyl abuse. The documentary began merely days after the escape of Joaquin Guzman, aka “El Chapo”, one of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords. With a trip to Sinaloa, Mexico, El Chapo’s main territory, Fusion visited known drug laboratories, where a large majority Fentanyl is illegally cooked and manufactured.
Drug traffickers and dealers reported a new fentanyl-laced heroin that was being made in said labs. This new supply was so explosive it had been dubbed “el diablito,” or little devil. One drug trafficker told Fusion, “There’s almost nobody making pure heroin anymore, because el diablito is so much stronger.” He went on to explain, his family obtained the necessary chemicals from China and went on to employ a Colombian chemist for $50,000 to teach them how to properly cook the Fentanyl.
In an earlier blog, we shared horrifying facts about some Chinese businesses with our readers. In that article, we explained their production and sale of illegal, deadly chemicals to not only the Mexican, but Americans as well. Carfentanil, a chemically similar compound to Fentanyl, yet much stronger, is still many companies best-selling product. And to whom, you might ask…Mexican cartels and Americans looking to buy drugs via the internet. Carfentanil, said to be the most dangerous synthetic opioid available, was once researched as a chemical weapon and is now used as a sedative for large animals, such as elephants and rhinos. This drug has been linked to numerous deaths throughout the country, including in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
While heroin is still the number one killer of our friends, neighbors, and children, Fentanyl abuse and death is rising. That is still after the number of prescriptions has decreased. Some law enforcement officials believe the rise in overdoses may be directly correlated with the rise in illegally-made Fentanyl. Based on reports, the confiscation of illegally made, non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl rose 7 times between 2012 and 2014.
As previously stated, prevention, intervention, and treatment will only help to a certain extent. This is a not a simple black or white kind of matter. It takes effort on all fronts. Providing more treatment resources, requiring insurance companies to pay for treatment, supplying Naloxone, offering care instead of court cases, and tightening our border security are all measures that need to be had in the fight against drug abuse. Cutting the supplier off at its knees is a definite step we need to take.
Contact Clearbrook For Fentanyl Addiction
Are you or someone you love struggling with alcoholism and/or drug addiction? For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been a leader in providing effective treatment to the suffering individual. If you or someone you know needs help, please do not wait any longer. Contact our Admissions Specialists today and begin on a journey you surely will not regret.