In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the level of opioid addiction in the United States to be a public health crisis. This began in the 1990s after pharmaceutical companies assured medical professionals that their opioid painkillers were not addictive, and doctors began prescribing them more frequently. As a result, millions of individuals have struggled with opioid addiction, and many have lost their lives to this devastating addiction.
In recent years, the synthetic opioid fentanyl—which is roughly 100 times more potent than morphine—has contributed largely to the opioid crisis. In 2015, fentanyl-related deaths only made up 1% of all overdoses in the country, but by 2020, they contributed to a staggering 40% of all overdoses. Recently released data by the CDC show that drug overdose deaths reached a record high of 93,331 in 2020.
What Is Fentanyl And Why Is It Dangerous?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, that is typically used for severe pain treatment and management for patients who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In recent years, overdoses resulting in death from using fentanyl have increased rapidly and dramatically.
In prescription form, fentanyl is known by brand names such as Duragesic®, Sublimaze®, and Actiq®. In its prescribed form, it comes in transdermal patches and lozenges.
However, at this point in time, fentanyl is frequently manufactured illegally and sold as an illicit drug known for its heroin-like effects. Other than ‘fentanyl,’ the illegal substance is also known as China White, China Girl, Jackpot, and Apache. It typically comes in the form of a powder but is also sold on blotter paper and in pill form.
Due to the potency of fentanyl, overdose is, unfortunately, an increasingly common occurrence. In recent years, death from fentanyl, and other synthetic opioid overdoses, has skyrocketed. These synthetic narcotics, mainly fentanyl, are now the leading group of drugs contributing to overdose deaths.
An individual may overdose on fentanyl without even being aware of its presence. This is because it is not uncommon for other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA, or methamphetamines, to be laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl-Laced Pills: An Overdose Crisis
On September 27, 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued its first public safety alert in six years, focused on the sharp increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and meth. In an interview with the Washington Post, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram stated, “We decided to do this because the amounts are staggering. We are in the midst, in my view, of an overdose crisis, and the counterfeit pills are driving so much of it.”
In 2021 alone, the DEA has seized 9.5 million counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine, which is more than the last two years combined. The counterfeit pills are illegally manufactured by extensive drug networks and are made to look identical to prescription medications such as Oxycontin, Adderall, Percocet, Vicodin, and Xanax. The pills are often sold on the black market through social media and e-commerce platforms.
“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Milgram. “Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before. In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA is focusing resources on taking down the violent drug traffickers causing the greatest harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans. Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children.”
Do You Need Help With Addiction? Oasis Recovery Is Here For You
Addiction can affect anyone, and with the increased prevalence and availability of deadly fentanyl-laced pills, individuals are at a greater risk of overdose than ever before. It does not matter where one is from or what type of substance they use— fentanyl-laced pills have infiltrated every state, and are masked in a number of substances.
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, help is available! At Oasis Recovery, our addiction specialists offer several proven treatments and treatment programs to help people overcome their addiction. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you or your loved one live a life of sobriety!