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America’s Drug Epidemic and the Rise of Fentanyl

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Opioid addiction is a public health crisis that is on the rise and has become a national problem. There has been a penetration of drugs which are more dangerous and available in larger quantities than those in the past. The leading cause of death for those under fifty has become drug overdose. The New York Times has compiled data that gives preliminary findings of over fifty-nine thousand deaths in 2016. This would be the largest jump ever recorded in the nation. This would be a nineteen percent increase from 2015, which was fifty-two thousand and four hundred and four deaths. Early data is showing that 2017 has not only continued this trend but will likely surpass those numbers. A lawsuit in Ohio has been filed against five drug companies. The paperwork states that they are abetting the opioid epidemic, with an estimated increase of twenty-five percent. One of the most dangerous drugs finding its way to the street is Fentanyl.

What is Happening in Ohio?

Ohio is considered a model state for the middle class of the nation. This tends to be more true of Columbus, specifically. That is why the lawsuit filed against five drug companies is one that should raise eyebrows. If this is a problem in Ohio, it can’t be too long before it hits your neighborhood; if it hasn’t already. But, the problem isn’t one that is familiar. Sure, there was a heroin problem and in many counties; it’s a virtually extinct situation. The new issue is fentanyl and its analogs. These are newer to the drug scene, but far more deadly than anything we had seen before them. Even coming into contact with a small dose of the drug on your skin could prove deadly.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a pain medication which acts quickly and is extremely robust, but the duration is short lived. It is fifty to one hundred times more potent than morphine, but its analogs tend to be thousands of times more powerful. It has been known in the medical community to be an asset, helping with surgeries and being used as an anesthetic. The World Health Organization has listed it as essential for a health system, as it is considered both safe and efficient. The problem comes when people abuse the drug. In many cases, drug dealers mix fentanyl with other drugs including both heroin and cocaine. This has lead to more overdoses. However, it has recently been floating around without a mixture.

When medical professionals use the drug, they heavily dilute the drug with a solution. But, when people use the drug recreationally, they often use the pure form which is deadly. And that is where the danger lies. The fact that it is also available in sublingual, patches and even lollipops only makes it that much easier for teenagers and partiers to easily enjoy them. A narcotics unit in Akron records that on July 5th, 2016 seventeen people overdosed and one person died. This is within nine hours of the drug carfentanil hitting the market. This medication is a fentanyl analog, and within the next six months, another 140 people died. To put things in perspective, three years before there were fewer than one hundred overdose deaths of any kind for the year. You can read more about it here.

What Does This Mean For The Rest of The Country?

In some states to the west, the data suggests there has been a decline or the problem is the same. Many view this as a testament to the divide between the powder heroin that you find east of the Mississippi River and the Mexican black tar heroin in the west; which together compose the heroin market. This may have contained the deaths to one portion of the market. However, once the production shifts the fentanyl will change with it. Because there is little difference between heroin use and opioid addiction, this is a possibility.

You don’t want to get involved on the wrong side of this problem, as there is a crackdown to try to minimize the damage. If you receive drug charges, it could land you in a more dangerous situation than you realize. Especially with heroin involvement. Some people are using or selling heroin, without knowing if the drug contains fentanyl. Any heroin charge is bad enough; you don’t want to contribute to taking someones’ life. And if a state is filing a lawsuit against five drug companies, how do you think a heroin charge will fair in a court? You don’t want to take chances, not when your future is at stake. Or even your life. You can find out more here.

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