The United States Fentanyl Crisis
The opioid crisis in the United States has resulted in approximately 192 deaths per day. Oxycodone and heroin were not responsible for these deaths. The drug currently killing people is called fentanyl. Fatal drug overdoses significantly increased from 1999 through 2017 due to fentanyl. This drug is classified as a synthetic opioid between eighty and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl has been used for many years in anesthesia cocktails and cancer patches to relieve pain. During the fairly recent past, fentanyl has become an extremely popular recreational drug.
The Centers for Disease Control has recently issued a report stating fentanyl is involved in more fatal overdoses than any other drug throughout the United States. In 2016, nearly one-third of all fatalities involved fentanyl. There was an increase of approximately 113 percent of fatal overdoses between 2013 and 2016. A minimum of two-thirds of the deaths related to fentanyl involved a minimum of one additional drug. This is partially due to drug dealers lacing cocaine and heroin with fentanyl to increase potency while cutting costs.
This means when an individual purchases opioids, they are receiving a deadly combination. Fentanyl was involved in two of every five overdose deaths related to cocaine. Almost one-third of all deaths resulting from fentanyl involved heroin as well. Fentanyl overdose has become an extreme legitimate danger.
The Truth About Fentanyl
Fentanyl works just like other opioids. The drug binds to the brain’s opioid receptors. These receptors control both emotions and pain. As the individual continues to use fentanyl, the brain adapts. The effects of the drug are weakened which results in the individual using larger quantities. This often results in dependency. Due to the potency of the drug, fentanyl is used for the treatment of chronic pain or severe pain resulting from surgery.
Although a prescription can be written for fentanyl, the most common drug overdose is linked to the fentanyl produced in underground laboratories, manufactured into pills created to look like another prescription, added to nasal sprays and eye droppers, and even just sold as a powder. Drug suppliers and dealers are literally killing people to increase their profits. Fentanyl has a lot of harmful effects and symptoms. This includes:
- Heartbeat changes
- Shallow and slow breathing
- Chest, back and stomach pain
Continually using or overusing fentanyl can result in fainting, respiratory complications, depression and ultimately overdose, resulting in complications.
The Fentanyl Epidemic
The opioid crisis in America is now a fentanyl epidemic spiraling out of control. There is a fentanyl overdose occurring every day. There were painkillers containing fentanyl created using counterfeit prescriptions by a man in Utah. He became a drug kingpin by mailing this deadly drug to people all over the United States. He will be going to trial, along with a small group of individuals, regarding allegations of using the basement of his home to send hundreds of thousands of packages with pills containing fentanyl.
Issues the federal government’s prosecutors will bring to light: the drug is being imported from China, it is poorly manufactured in to fake pills that are then sold and dispersed throughout every state via the online black market, sequentially killing tens of thousands of people by drug overdose The allegations of the prosecutors state dozens of customers died from a fentanyl overdose. Despite this, the charges for the ringleader include just one death: an individual 21 years of age who died after snorting what was believed to be prescription oxycodone but was laced with fentanyl.
The ringleader began as a workout buff and aspiring entrepreneur. He said he did not realize the danger of his actions and was simply trying to make money. He never saw the people he was harming, just the numbers on his screen. At the time he was arrested, the bust was one of the biggest in the country’s history. According to documents from the court, the raid on his home revealed thousands of pills, a pill press in the basement and garbage bags containing in excess of $1 million in cash.
The group began two years previously, eventually including over a dozen individuals. According to the allegations of the court documents, they met the ringleader while working at an eBay call center. The partnership began with two men. They started out by importing steroids, then reselling them to their friends from the gym. Another man pled guilty for assisting in the development of the recipe and pressing the pills laced with fentanyl. The fentanyl was shipped to several homes of the group’s members directly from China. The authorities stated the residents were then paid to turn over the drug.
The powder was allegedly cut, fillers added and then pressed into pill form. According to the prosecutors, stamps and dyes were used to replicate the appearance of legitimate pills. Public health experts have issued warnings regarding the danger of small drug trafficking networks. Fentanyl is being cut and mixed despite the fact just a few flakes can be deadly. Due to the amateur equipment being used, one pill may only contain a small amount of fentanyl while another may have enough to cause immediate death.
According to the prosecutor, the pills being shipped were poison in disguise. Average people purchased these pills such as someone who became addicted due to an injury or surgery. The pills were sold at a dark-web marketplace on the internet called Pharma-Master. Reaching the dark web requires a special browser and is frequently used for dark activity. The dark-web also has user-friendly sites a lot like eBay and Amazon. The court documents stated Pharma-Master is one of the more prominent dealers often processing as many as fifty orders per day.
The pills were counted, vacuum-sealed and shipped to homes throughout the United States in envelopes. According to the prosecutors, the packages had phony return addresses and fake invoices. Mailboxes throughout Salt Lake City were used to drop the packages so the group could hide from the police. Some of the orders were smaller while others contained thousands of pills. The prosecutors stated these were sent to drug dealers and gang members who sold them on the streets. The cost of making each pill was less than one cent yet the prosecutors said they sold on the street for $20.
Preventing Deaths from Fentanyl
Preventable injuries and deaths such as fatal overdoses are often referred to as accidental. This implies these deaths are unable to be prevented. Overdoses can be prevented when the individual can easily access the help they require. The third highest cause of death in the United States are preventable injuries. As the government attempts to establish control of the opioid epidemic, new chemicals are being produced to subvert the law. Enforcement and strict regulations are not enough to eliminate the market for illicit drugs or prevent access.
Regulations are being pursued to decrease the fentanyl being received in the United States through China. The increasing demand for these types of drugs must also be addressed to ensure a real impact. This means the people must be educated regarding the true dangers including possible overdose and death resulting from fentanyl. The reasons individuals started using these drugs are just as important. If these reasons are not addressed, the war on illegal drugs will never end.