For over a decade now, the opioid epidemic has been a major problem, and it keeps getting worse. Some people believe that the epidemic is primarily caused by heroin coming into the country, but this isn’t exactly true. Many of the opioid-based drugs people are dying from come from medications that are located right here in the United States. The more you understand about the current epidemic means the better chance you have of helping yourself or a loved one.
Shocking Overdose Rates
The number of overdoses in the United States continue to rise, and it’s very scary because it’s happening all over the country. As of 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that more people died from prescription drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. Now, in 2017, the numbers have become even worse due to drugs including heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that an average of 91 Americans are dying each day from opioid overdoses, which is over 33,000 people per year.
Most people know that heroin is a dangerous drugs, but there isn’t enough awareness about drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil. To put it into perspective, fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. It only takes a fraction of the amount of carfentanil to equal a dosage of fentanyl. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl and carfentanil are being used more and more by people who are addicted to opioids, and they were never intended to be addictive drugs. Both of these medications are strictly supposed to be used for specific medical reasons. Fentanyl is often given to people who struggle with chronic, ongoing pain and typically given to people in hospice. Carfentanil is used to tranquilize large animals like horses, but both are being used by humans who have developed a tolerance to prescription opioids and heroin so they can get a stronger high.
Fighting the Epidemic
One of the most important things to understand about the overdose death rates is that it doesn’t account for all of the people overdosing and surviving. Each year, over 10s of thousands of people are overdosing, but being revived by a miracle medication called Nalexone, which is often referred to as Narcan. This medication acts by counteracting the effects of opioids, and more and more first responders are beginning to carry it. In some parts of the country, EMTs, firefighters and police officers are carrying the medication when they respond to calls. There are even some areas that have legalized the sale of Nalexone without a prescription because the problem has become so bad.
The primary issue as of lately is that many people who manufacture heroin are now cutting the drug with fentanyl and carfentanil. Many people buying heroin don’t even know that they bought something that is much stronger. This is also creating a problem for first responders because it requires much more Nalexone to revive a person. Recently, the U.S. First Responders Association informed first responders that it may take upward of 10 times the normal of Nalexone to revive someone.
If you or someone you know is showing the signs of an opioid addiction, let Boca Recovery Center help you before it’s too late.