A Flood of Fentanyl Is Causing Mass Destruction throughout the United States

Woman crying.

It has become a grim reality that going to the funeral of a friend has become commonplace for most young adults. Too many people have begun to lose count of how many people they know who have died from a drug overdose. With illicit fentanyl flooding the streets the problem doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

According to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, drug overdose deaths have risen 19.75% from 2006-2015 for people between the ages of 15-24. During this time 36,422 young adults and teenagers died as a result of a drug overdose. A major contributor to this continually growing problem is the introduction of illicit fentanyl to street drugs. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and has been a major cause of the increasing death toll sweeping across the United States.

One of the scariest things about this is that it is showing up in all kinds of drugs, not just opioids. It is being mixed into just about everything from meth and cocaine to heroin. Perhaps the scariest thing of all is the fact that counterfeit pills are being made by drug cartels in Mexico that look like legitimate prescription pills but actually sometimes contain lethal amounts of fentanyl.

Between the years of 2015-2017, deaths from fentanyl have tripled in Arizona largely due to the increased amounts of counterfeit pills being taken. People consuming these pills often think they are taking genuine pharmaceutical pills but are actually ingesting fentanyl in unknown amounts. Some of the pills that have been tested have been found to contain enough fentanyl for three people in a single dose. Even people with a high tolerance can easily overdose on these drugs.

Due to the nature of the drug trade, consumers buying off the streets never really know what they are getting. There are fentanyl tests kits that have been made available but these can really only do so much. The opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan has been a life saver for countless amounts of people but is really only a bandaid for a much larger issue. For most addicts, an overdose is simply not enough to get them to stop using on their own because long-term treatment is often needed to lay a solid foundation for recovery.

First responders are having more and more of a difficult time combating the epidemic. Due to the extreme potency of fentanyl, even the maximum amount of Narcan that may be used at one time is sometimes not enough to bring someone back from a fentanyl overdose.

Now, more than ever, it is important to reach out to those who are struggling with addiction and to do what we can to help prevent more people from falling into this trap. There really has never been a more dangerous time to be addicted to or to experiment with street drugs.

If we are really going to begin to make a difference in this battle we need to have more resources made available to those who need it. Quick fixes will not be enough to solve long-term problems.

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After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.