The Battle with Fentanyl
Posted By Schick Shadel || Jun 8, 2016
A new report by the Wall Street Journal focuses on the emerging drug problem with fentanyl. The pain medication — 50 times more powerful than heroin that is also cheaper to produce — has increased the human death toll, and is increasing the concerns of overdose death.
First introduced in the 1960s as an anesthetic, fentanyl is a product of simple chemistry. Now, many officials in the United States feel that the majority of the supply comes from illegal labs in Mexico. This eliminates the need for prescriptions and doctors, and in some cases users have even been able to order fentanyl or similar drugs from factories in China through the mail.
Fentanyl was later produced by various pharmaceutical companies to provide treatment to those who suffer from chronic and severe pain, such as cancer patients. They were designed as lozenges or skin patches. Since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, fentanyl has been designated similar to OxyContin as a Schedule II narcotic. This means it has been determined to have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
According to U.S. researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2014, the nation saw a record 18,893 fatal overdoses from painkiller use, and fentanyl was a big part of this statistic. Fatalities from the drug are continuing to increase, especially in parts of New England, the South, and the Midwest. The crisis is increasingly alarming in 12 states — including Ohio, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire — and between 2013 and 2015, there were more than 5,500 deaths related to fentanyl overdoses. In some years, the numbers are only partially available, which means the death toll could be higher than anticipated.
The numbers saw a huge spike in 2014 regarding problems with fentanyl. For instance:
- In 2013, the number of seizures associated with fentanyl reported by forensic labs in the United States reached just 1,000. The following year, in 2014, the number surpassed 5,000. By half of 2015, the numbers were already set to increase.
- In New Hampshire in 2013, there were very few fentanyl overdose deaths. In 2014, the number went over 100. By 2015, there were nearly 300 fatal overdoses associated with the use of fentanyl in the state.
Unfortunately, for many parents, the concern with overdose becomes a reality. This was the focus of the post on the Wall Street Journal, which documented the situation endured by Joel and Kathy Murphy, a middle-class family in Manchester. Before they knew it, they were dealing with something they had never thought they would experience; their youngest son, Joseph, was addicted.
After high school, a friend introduced him to what was referred to on the streets as Percocet 30s. This started off as small usage — he claimed to snort half a pill once every few days. It wasn’t long until he was going through 10 pills in the morning and 10 pills at night, each day. He became addicted the way so many others do. He enjoyed the high, but as time went on, he needed more and more. Some of the pills were for the high, but the rest were to avoid feeling nauseous and prevent symptoms of withdrawal. With the influx of pills coming from the south into New England, it was easy for Joseph to obtain.
As the addiction got worse, Joseph found himself using heroin to supplement his high. He claimed that he felt as though he was most likely snorting fentanyl along with the heroin for quite some time. By 2015, though, he began to seek fentanyl alone. He knew someone who sold the painkiller without heroin and it made getting the drug easy for him. With a high that lasts shorter than heroin and resulted in the user becoming much drowsier, this was a big appeal for dealers.
Over time, Joseph’s addiction worsened and it even impacted his relationship with his parents. According to the WSJ story, he became more aggressive, showed up at his mother’s work demanding money, and would create large scenes at home. It caused tension between Joel and Kathy who were arguing over whether or not to cut their son off. The parents decided to later get a restraining order against Joseph.
In October of 2014, Joel was arrested. He had failed to stop completely at a stop sign and was pulled over with three passengers in the car. He was charged with crack possession. Hours after he was released, he was arrested again trying to break into a cleaning supplies building. He had confused the establishment with a convenience store and was heavily intoxicated.
Joseph experienced an overdose in 2015. Luckily, he survived.
Now, Fentanyl is on the move with one focus on the mind of dealers: profit. When you take into account the costs of producing heroin, for someone to buy fentanyl is a significant decrease in price according to Rusty Payne, a United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman. The DEA says that the price of heroin can reach $70,000 for a kilogram in Massachusetts, while fentanyl runs for about $90,000.
If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction or addiction to some other opioid, understand that there is hope for you. At Schick Shadel, our staff has helped more than 65,000 individuals over the last 80+ years. We take the time to focus on the root of the addiction and help our patients receive the drug addiction treatment they need. We are ready to help you.
Just give us 10 days and we’ll give you back your life. Call us today at (888) 802-4206.