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06.27.2016

Fentanyl Increases Heroin Overdose Rates

fentanylAmong the largest number of drug overdose fatalities in history is a subset of opioid users, typically heroin, who unknowingly ingest fentanyl. The drug, which is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, made headlines again when it was implicated in the death of Prince in Minnesota this year.

Fentanyl is so potent that it is typically prescribed to people with more severe chronic pain in the form of a transdermal patch that slowly releases the drug in small increments. It has been the source of multiple spikes in overdose deaths in recent years ranging from New Jersey to Michigan and Illinois to Massachusetts. Most recently, it has caused numerous deaths in New Jersey again as well as Delaware.

The Pacific Northwest has also had a long history with opiate addiction, and fentanyl has reared its even uglier head there as well. Just north of the border in Vancouver, British Columbia, officials have declared a public health emergency due to the overdoses in the area. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control spokesperson Jane Buxton, “We did a study – it was a year ago now – where we asked people what they do – what drugs they’d used in the last three days and asked them to pee in a pot. And then we tested it. And we found 29 percent had fentanyl in their urine. But of those, 70 percent didn’t know they’d taken fentanyl.”

People addicted to opiates wind up taking fentanyl when the heroin they’re using is cut with the drug. It is a way for dealers to dilute the heroin itself at first with other powders and then increase the potency by adding a small amount of the drug. If this at all comes as a shock to you, please remember that they’re intentionally selling highly addictive and deadly drugs to begin with, so it’s not like they’re really concerned about the health or wellbeing of their buyers.

If you have a loved one with a substance abuse problem, contact us to find out more about Genesis House and successful recovery.

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