The United States Department of Justice on Nov. 9, 2017, said that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would toughen its stance on illicit fentanyl analogues by classifying illegal versions of the synthetic opioid along with heroin. The move will make it easier for the criminal prosecution of traffickers accused of possessing, distributing or producing illicit analogues of fentanyl.
“President Trump has made it the foundation of his tenure at the White House to fight the rampant drug crisis in the U.S., and today the Department of Justice is taking an important step toward curbing the soaring death toll caused by the abuse of illegal fentanyls across the nation,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Under current laws, prescription fentanyl is categorized as a Schedule II drug owing to its highly addictive nature. Once the new DEA order takes effect, illicit fentanyl analogues will be included in the Schedule II drug category, along with heroin, as they are addictive and lack medicinal value. The scheduling of fentanyl-related substances will take around 30 days to come into effect after the DEA issues its notice of intent.
Fentanyl, a synthetic drug, is up to 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. It has triggered a phenomenal rise in overdose deaths in the U.S. After looking at the rising trend of fatal overdoses due to fentanyl, the DEA issued a nationwide alert in March 2016, elaborating the dangers of fentanyl and its analogues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths caused by synthetic opioids, such as tramadol and fentanyl, increased by 72.2 percent between 2014 and 2015. Experts say that the majority of deaths associated with synthetic opioid overdose involve illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, which has been creating havoc in the country for over a decade. Between 2005 and 2007, more than 1,000 deaths involving fentanyl overdose were reported in Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago. Upon investigation, the root cause of all the deaths was traced to a single illegal lab in Mexico which manufactured the drug.
Possible impact of misuse of fentanyl and other opioids
Prescription opioids are a group of drugs used for managing pain, provided they are taken as prescribed. But if the medicines are abused or taken in excess, they can be life-threatening. When an individual gets addicted to opioids, he or she may indulge in compulsive drug-seeking behavior and total dependence. Similarly, non-medical use or abuse of fentanyl can be deadly as there is only a minor difference between a therapeutic and a lethal dose of the drug.
Experts studying fentanyl-related overdose deaths say several drug traffickers and manufacturers across the U.S. are lacing their heroin supplies with carfentanil, a synthetic form of fentanyl that is supposedly 10,000 times more dangerous than morphine. With several clandestine illicit drug manufacturing laboratories mushrooming across the country, studies show other fentanyl analogues — alfentanil, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, butyryl fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, sufentanil and furanylfentanyl — are also making their way into wrong hands, resulting in a tremendous spike in the numbers of deadly overdoses.
Leading a drug-free life
Similar to other mind-altering drugs, fentanyl is known to modify the brain’s pleasure centers to cause addiction. Further, it also has an immediate effect on the body and even small quantities can impair the respiratory system to a large extent. As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it can prove to be a deadly combination if mixed with drugs like heroin or alcohol.
If you or your loved one is battling addiction to fentanyl or any other substance, contact a reputed rehab center for immediate medical intervention. Sovereign Health is a leading drug addiction treatment provider in the U.S. Specialists at our world-class drug addiction rehabs in California are trained to identify the underlying causes to enable a holistic treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives to know more about our customized treatment for drug addiction in California.