Fentanyl, one of the deadliest synthetic opioids on the planet, claimed a record number of lives in California in 2017. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported 746 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2017, the highest since authorities began monitoring fentanyl-related deaths in 2008. The last year figure was over a threefold surge from 237 reported in 2016. On the other hand, in 2013, as many as 81 people had died in the state due to fentanyl overdose.
The surge in fentanyl deaths is a cause for concern, especially when the overall toll due to opioid overdoses in California has fallen slightly – from over 2,030 in 2016 to more than 1,880 in 2017. This is the lowest number of deaths from opioid overdoses the state has witnessed since 2011. “This is a signal fentanyl as an illicit opioid has really arrived in California,” said Phillip Coffin, director of substance use research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
In the Bay Area, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Contra Costa counties witnessed the highest number of fatal overdoses involving fentanyl. The Contra Costa and San Francisco counties both reported 26 deaths each, while Santa Clara reported 24, according to the state data.
Fentanyl trafficking on the rise
In the past, fentanyl was strictly restricted to legal drugs such as epidurals and transdermal pain patches where it formed an important constituent. However, in recent years, drug dealers and other narcotic traffickers have taken over the business of distributing fentanyl, especially in the country’s northeastern regions where cartels are lacing substances like heroin, cocaine, meth and Xanax with fentanyl to increase its potency. The 2017 drug report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says fentanyl and its analogues pose a severe threat to public health because of the current opioid epidemic, which has pushed many opioid users toward these drugs.
According to experts, in a non-clinical environment, fentanyl users are not well-equipped to judge the amount of a dose. Moreover, mixing fentanyl with other drugs can turn out to be a potentially lethal cocktail, maximizing the chance of an accidental overdose.
Fentanyl, like other prescription opioids, can temporarily deactivate the brain response to painful stimuli. The point to be noted here is that after taking the drug, the pain doesn’t disappear altogether, instead, it just doesn’t bother the drug user for a while. This immediate and momentary respite, along with euphoria, builds tolerance with every consecutive dose. In such a situation, people may require even higher doses to experience the same level of pleasure, leading to total drug dependence.
Fighting fentanyl addiction
Experts say clandestine laboratories, both within the U.S. and overseas, are the prime production hubs of fentanyl that is reportedly 20 to 40 times deadlier than heroin, and 50 to 100 times more lethal than morphine. Generally, illicitly produced fentanyl makes it to the drug market as a standalone product or as a cheap additive to increase the potency of other illicit drugs. Abusing the drug is known to cause nausea, sedation, confusion, cognitive impairment, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression in users.
The only way to break free from the clutches of fentanyl use is to seek professional detox at a top-notch fentanyl drug abuse treatment center to reverse the devastating effects of the drug. Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances like fentanyl despite the negative impact on his or her life. Customized fentanyl addiction treatment at Sovereign Health of San Clemente is designed to treat a person holistically. If you or your loved one is battling addiction to any prescription drug, call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the most effective treatment programs at our world-class treatment centers.