Many Americans first heard of fentanyl last year, when the singer Prince died after accidentally overdosing on the drug. Officials found pills in the pop icon’s home that were labeled as hydrocodone. Upon testing, it turned out these pills contained fentanyl. (It’s not clear whether the pills were mislabeled or illegally produced, or whether Prince even knew they contained fentanyl.)
But fentanyl has been a growing presence in the U.S. for some time now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of drug products seized by law enforcement that contained fentanyl increased by 426 percent between 2013 and 2014, and synthetic opioid overdose deaths rose by nearly 80 percent in that period.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that doctors typically prescribe to chronic pain patients, like those with end-stage cancer, as an injection, a patch or a lollipop. It has a high potential for abuse and can be fatal even in small amounts.
Because it induces extreme relaxation and euphoria, fentanyl is also sold on the black market. And since fentanyl is cheap, it’s frequently mixed with more-expensive heroin or cocaine, something users aren’t always aware of when they buy it.
Fentanyl is “not a joke,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, president of the American Pain Association, told The Huffington Post. “It’s 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s really lethal.”
Now, a HuffPost analysis of available state-by-state data on synthetic opioid and fentanyl deaths and fentanyl seizures by law enforcement illustrates a troubling trend: Synthetic opioid overdose deaths driven by fentanyl, one of the strongest opioids on the market, are rising.
These data highlight pockets of the United States ― the Eastern Seaboard and Appalachia in particular ― where fentanyl seizures and overdose deaths indicate a rapidly evolving problem that law enforcement and science aren’t keeping up with.
“We have not peaked yet,” said Dr. Peter Friedmann, associate dean for research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and chief research officer at the nonprofit Baystate Health.
“It’s going to be a big issue over the next couple of years,” said Friedmann, who has spent more than two decades studying substance abuse and addiction treatments. “I really think that the policy hasn’t caught up to the pharmacology.”
Reprinted from "the Huffington Post"
The Empire Recovery Center, working with Studio West Marketing, has a new logo and slogan! Thank you, Dave West and Jeff Perry, for helping us create a new presence! Our first promotional video was premiered at the Friends of the Empire Dinner, Nov. 2. If you have a community club or group that would like a presentation with the video, call us!