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Florence Johnson : The Fentanyl Epidemic – The United States has been fighting an opioid crisis for over a decade, over the past few years, it has only gotten worse.

August 7th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Florence Johnson : The Fentanyl Epidemic – The United States has been fighting an opioid crisis for over a decade, over the past few years, it has only gotten worse.
Politics
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The Fentanyl Epidemic

The United States has been fighting an opioid crisis for over a decade, over the past few years, it has only gotten worse. With the rise of the fentanyl and carfentanil, the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise every year. One of the most powerful countries in the world seems to be helpless against these drugs. President Trump even declared the opioid epidemic a national health crisis. This is by far the worst drug problem the country has ever faced, How did this happen?

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The Rise of Prescription Painkillers

In the mid-2000’s the country saw a massive influx of prescription opiates being used throughout the United States. Medications like Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin and Hydrocodone became commonplace for anyone struggling with pain management issues. Big pharma pitched these medications to doctors throughout the country, claiming they were safe and had little to no harmful side effects. It didn’t take long of these pills to become popular recreational substances.

This was quickly followed by the rise of “pill mills” especially in South Florida. 93 of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctor offices in the country were located in Florida. These facilities were typically owned and operated by doctors who would happily give prescriptions to anyone. All you needed was around $200 cash. Very few, if any of these offices accepted insurance, some even filled prescriptions on site. People traveled from every corner of the country to South Florida to visit these clinics. They would then bring the pills back to their hometown and sell that. It wasn’t long before opiates became a national concern as they were found in small towns and in our schools.

Back in 2010 manufacturers shipped more than 625 million oxycodone pills to Florida, that’s enough for every resident of the state to have more than 30 pills. Florida in 2011 had 856 active pain clinics pain clinics. Opiates began killing more people than any other drug in the country’s history, overdoses deaths starting to increase rapidly nationwide. The government took action and these pill mills started to close. The supply of painkillers diminished causing street prices rose significantly.

Heroin is Here

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Those struggling with substance abuse issues couldn’t afford the dramatic increase in prices which caused many of them turned to heroin. It was a cheaper, more powerful and readily available alternative to prescription opiates. More than 70% of current heroin addicts surveyed reported they started using opiates with prescription pills. Heroin seemed to grow in popularity by the day, drug dealers began cutting their heroin with traces of fentanyl to increase its potency which they hoped would help increase their sales and their profits.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate much cheaper than dope and can be up to 100x stronger than heroin. Emergency response services started to see a massive influx of heroin-related overdoses, especially in the northeast. Autopsies revealed a large portion of these heroin-related overdoses were actually caused by fentanyl. Families were being torn apart by the thousands, no one thought it could get worse. Then carfentanil came onto the scene.

Carfentanil is also a synthetic opiate. Originally used as an elephant tranquilizer, it can be nearly 10,000x stronger than pure heroin. Just a grain of sand sized spec of this drug is enough to cause a fatal overdose in an adult male. In 2016 there were nearly 70,000 drug overdose deaths throughout the United States, this was a 22% increase from the year prior. Over 34,000 of these overdose deaths were caused by heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. More than 100 deaths per day due to drugs, this is more than gun homicides. Experts believe 2018 will be even worse than previous years in terms of fatal overdoses.

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What Can be Done?

If you or someone you care about are struggling, please seek out professional help immediately. No one should ever have to overcome substance abuse disorder alone. Far too many innocent lives are being lost every day due to these substances. Treatment centers and detox centers are available and can help those struggling safely and comfortably overcome the withdrawal symptoms associated with these drugs.

A stigma still lingers over drug abuse and drug addiction, we must work together to break this harmful idea. Millions of Americans struggle with drug abuse or alcohol abuse issues. The time will come where they want help, but if they feel they are being viewed in a negative light their chances of seeking a better life will lower significantly. Anyone can fall victim to these highly addictive drugs, it is imperative that they get the help they need and deserve.

Florence Johnson

florence

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-reg-opioid-prescribing-rates-20170718-story.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4985852/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/05/nearly-half-opioid-related-overdose-deaths-involve-fentanyl

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