Tag Archives: fentanyl

Study Confirms Fentanyl’s Role in Opioid Epidemic

fentanyl opioid epidemicThe fentanyl epidemic in the United States is growing by the day, but because it is a relatively new additive, there is little research to compare the current situation with history. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Boonshoft School of Medicine Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research (CITAR) at Wright State University provides more concrete evidence about the fentanyl problem in this country. This is important because in order to reduce the number of people who ingest this powerful drug, there will need to be evidence of its growth and education about what exactly is fentanyl and how to avoid its use.

Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical drug that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Most commonly, the drug is prescribed to cancer patients, but is also given in hospital settings to combat major pain issues. Regarding abuse, fentanyl has gained popularity with drug dealers because of increased potency when it is combined with heroin. Due to inadequate testing procedures, many experts believe that a greater number of overdose fatalities involved fentanyl than previously reported.

Heroin dealers are now mixing the drug into the supply in order to create a stronger, more intense high and to increase profits. But, because of this new combination, more and more addicts are suffering from fatal overdoses. Other studies have shown that most opioid users are not even aware that they are ingesting fentanyl, and actively try to stay away from the drug in an effort to avoid these types of overdoses. This goes against the suggestion that addicts will seek out fentanyl in order to get a stronger high. Further research has shown that many drug dealers are getting their hands on fentanyl not from legitimate hospitals or doctors, but from illegal labs that have mimicked the recipe.

“The findings of our study highlight the urgent need to include testing for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as a part of standard toxicology panels for biological specimens used by substance abuse treatment centers, criminal justice institutions and medical providers. Communities also need to assure that sufficient supplies of naloxone doses are provided to first responders and distributed through community overdose prevention programs to mitigate the effects of opioid overdoses,” explained lead author of the study, Raminta Daniulaityte.

While there are still more long-term studies that need to be conducted on the fentanyl problem, this is a step forward for medical professionals who are looking to educate addicts and the public on the dangers and prevalence of the drug.

Fentanyl More Prevalent in Drug Supply than Previously Suspected

fentanylRecent news that opioid-related overdose deaths rose again keeps the alarm sounding that more has to be done to help save lives. One of the biggest contributors to these fatalities has been the addition of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is usually reserved for treating chronic and extreme pain, such as in cancer patients and after major surgeries. However, drug manufacturers and distributors have discovered that they can add it to other drugs to increase potency while making their supply last longer.

“What we see across the country is the drug cartels moving away from heroin and moving toward these opioids they’re going to produce themselves. People think they’re buying one thing and they’re actually buying another. The stuff they’re selling is so powerful. Some of the stuff we’re seeing produced is 50 times more potent than heroin, as if heroin wasn’t bad enough,” said Van Ingram, executive director of Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy.

What makes fentanyl-laced heroin so dangerous is that users usually have no idea that they are taking such powerful opioids and so they use the same quantity as they normally would. However, instead of getting the same result, they are ingesting a deadly amount and never make it long enough to receive a dose of naloxone to combat the overdose.

Recently, a safe injection facility in Vancouver, Canada implemented a testing procedure so users could test their drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Their report was shocking, as over 1,000 tests they found an extremely high percentage of the drugs contained fentanyl. This included over 80% of the heroin and even 80% of the methamphetamine and 40% of the cocaine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has also released reports warning of the increasing presence of fentanyl in street drugs. Since users have no way of knowing what is really in the drugs they’re getting nor how potent they are, there really are only a few viable long-term options to fixing this problem. There has to be a stronger effort to get people into effective treatment programs and there has to be more focus on providing better prevention programs for people of all ages to stop addiction before it starts.

Opioids and Cocaine Make for a Dangerous Combination

Opioids and CocaineThere was a time when cocaine use was sweeping across the country. The drug took inner cities by storm in the eighties and nineties and claimed many lives in the process. Then, cocaine use generally went down after prescription painkillers and heroin became more popular.

Now experts have noticed that more people are dying from drug overdoses involving cocaine than in subsequent years. In an effort to isolate the reasons why this may be occurring, researchers investigated the most recent string of overdose deaths . They found that it is much more common to mix cocaine with opioids than previously thought. This deadly combination has been identified as the reason for the surging fatalities.

“Opioids, primarily heroin and synthetic opioids, have been driving the recent increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths. This corresponds to the growing supply and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl [a synthetic opioid] in the United States,” explained the researchers.

It was discovered that cocaine and opioid overdoses increased between 2006 and 2015, despite the number of cocaine users declining over that same period of time. This indicates that they are more like additional opioid deaths who also used cocaine, rather than the other way around, as there has also been a long upward trend of poly-drug users. Mixing multiple substances in such a fashion makes overdoses more likely to happen as well.

There have also been reports of cocaine users unknowingly ingesting synthetic opioids that were added to the powder. “In the absence of recent, regular opioid use, someone using cocaine and fentanyl (knowingly or unknowingly) would be highly susceptible to opioid-induced respiratory depression and subsequent overdose,” the authors wrote.

In a day where drug overdose deaths continue to rise, the threat for every single user becomes a very real possibility. There are too many things that can go wrong and synthetic drug additives for any user to really know what they are consuming. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, contact us today to learn more about successful intervention and treatment options.

Carfentanil Latest Synthetic Opioid to Hit North American Cities

Authorities have issued warnings about the effects of carfentanil, a potent synthetic opioid. It has similar properties to heroin and has been used as an elephant tranquilizer. Recently, though, carfentanil has made headlines due to its deadly consequences.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a warning to the public about the safety risks of carfentantil in September. It is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which a drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

The lethal dose for this drug in humans is unknown. Carfentanil is the most deadly opiate among the illicit street drugs, and taking a few granules the size table salt can be enough to prove fatal.

Illicit Drug Users Don’t Know they are Taking Carfentanil

Carfentanil is showing up in a number of communities in the United States and Canada, where it has been linked to several overdose incidents as well as deaths. Overdose victims believe that they are taking heroin and don’t realize that the drug they are buying has been laced with carfentanil, fentanyl or another harmful synthetic.

The issue of street drugs having other substances added to them is nothing new. There have been many reports over the years of users coming to harm due to ingesting something they didn’t realize had been added to the drugs they were buying.

Signs of Exposure to Carfentanil

The symptoms of exposure to carfentanil include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Sedation
  • Clammy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Respiratory arrest

These symptoms usually start within a few minutes of exposure to the drug and require immediate medical attention. Carfentanil, like other fentanyl-type drugs have the potential to work very quickly.

Naxolone is an antidote for opioid overdose, and can be administered for carfentanil exposure. If this option is available, administer a dose immediately while waiting for help to arrive. Continue to administer an additional dose every two or three minutes until the affected person is able to breathe on their own for at least 15 minutes or until emergency services arrives.

How the Drug Climate is Changing

opioidsSeveral years ago stories of mass overdoses and tainted heroin would have shocked the nation. Nowadays, these stories are becoming too commonplace. While laws and regulations are making prescription narcotics more difficult to obtain, and the demand for potent drugs is increasing, so drug dealers are improvising and often making a very dangerous situation much worse.

Opioids mixed with fentanyl have become the newest trend among illicit drugs, and the deadly combination has been claiming record numbers of lives. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is generally only administered in hospitals to patients with severe pain. Drug manufacturers have begun to include Fentanyl in batches of heroin and even batches of pressed pills. Addicts who are not expecting such a lethal drug often maintain their usual level of use, thinking it is the same potentcy. This causes mass overdoses in an area where the local dealers continue to include fentanyl in their heroin batches.

Many prescription painkiller addicts will argue that pills are safer than heroin. The idea that you always know what you’re taking and how much is no longer true. Drug dealers have changed the landscape of painkillers obtained on the street as well. In order to meet the demands of prescription drug addicts, dealers now have the ability to make their own “pills” putting in whatever ingredients they can get their hands on. Addicts begin unknowingly consuming anything that their dealer sells them. This can, and has, caused deaths throughout the country.

“Anyone can press a pill these days. It’s not very expensive or difficult. Even if you look it up, and it matches something you saw online, it could still literally be anything,” explains Lori Kufner, who works at the harm reduction organization Trip! Project.

Law enforcement and health officials are warning the public that street drugs are becoming more potent and unpredictable. Experts urge addicts to seek help before they fall victim to a “hot batch.” However, some addicts are not only undeterred, but are even seeking out the combination as a way to get stronger drugs. As a heroin addict becomes more entrenched in their addiction they oftentimes need more and more of the drug to feel the same kind of high. The promise of an extra powerful batch of heroin can entice addicts to buy more and use more.

Given that the drug scene is constantly changing – and getting worse by most accounts, there has to be more diligence on the part of friends and families to get help for their loved ones. The statement that their next hit could be their last has never been more true than it is today.

Contact Desert Cove now to find out how our addiction treatment program can help.