Last month, the Trump administration declared this country’s opioid epidemic a national emergency. The announcement signaled Washington’s concern over the surging rate of lethal overdoses in the US. In 1980, an estimated 6,500 Americans died via a drug overdose. Last year, the number of overdose deaths jumped to more than 60,000 in the US. That’s nearly a 10-fold increase in the annual rate of overdose deaths.
The number of fatal overdoses per year has doubled since 2005, while, in the last 3 years alone, the annual death toll has climbed by 20,000. The sharp spike in overdose deaths in the last 3 years parallels the spread of fentanyl into the country’s drug supply. A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is dramatically more potent than heroin, hydrocodone and OxyContin. It is estimated that fentanyl is 50-80 times more powerful than a typical sample of heroin. Drug cartels now routinely mix fentanyl into the heroin supply, or manufacture it in a powder form so that it presents as heroin.
The cartels also increasingly manufacture counterfeit pain pills that are sold as Vicodin, OxyContin, and so forth, but are in fact mainly fentanyl. Unknowingly, then, people snort and slam what they think is heroin or a pill equivalent, overdosing in the process.
Fentanyl first cropped up in a swath that stretched from Tennessee to New Hampshire. Recent reports from both AToN residents and media outlets indicate that fentanyl has now reached the heroin supply in California. If you or a loved-one struggles with an opioid addiction, please be cautious. It is a dangerous time to be a heroin user here in California.
Dr. Kevin Murphy
AToN Center 888-535-1516