Fentanyl Now Leading Cause of Overdose Deaths in the US

Fentanyl Now Leading Cause of Overdose Deaths

It seems as if every news outlet has a daily story related to the opioid crisis or epidemic. These concerns are not unfounded either. More people are using, overdosing from, and dying due to opiates.

Many people’s opioid addictions began through legitimate channel. Often it starts with some injury and subsequently receiving a prescription for painkillers. Over the last few years, the government has been shutting down what they call “pill mills.” One unintended consequence is that this has made it harder for people to satisfy their addiction to narcotic pain medications.

With prescription painkillers no longer readily available, people have turned to buying them illegally, as well as to other illicit opiates like heroin. But even heroin has become more expensive and harder to get. And now it’s also more dangerous.

Many drug suppliers have taken to “cutting” drugs like heroin with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In many instances, people aren’t aware they are taking fentanyl until it’s too late. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Last year alone, they accounted for the deaths of more than 21,000 people.

The statement that the United States is in the midst of an overdose epidemic is putting it lightly. In 2016 alone, 65,000 people died from drug overdoses, a 21% jump from 2015. While not all of those can be attributed to opioids such as Fentanyl, a large number can.

Many people are shocked to learn that Fentanyl only arrived on the illicit drug scene around 2012. In a few short years, use of the drug has exploded, beating out the traditional drugs like crystal meth and heroin in terms of fatalities. It’s not surprising, considering Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than morphine and 10 times more potent than heroin. Add to the mix the fact that most people aren’t aware they are taking it and you have the perfect recipe for an opiate epidemic.

Fentanyl might soon be displaced by another drug, Carfentanil, which is a synthetic opiate even more powerful than Fentanyl. The influx of deadly synthetic opioids has overwhelmed many of our healthcare systems. For many addicted individuals, the recommended treatment involves the use of opioid replacement medications, such as Suboxone. Medications like Suboxone, which block the use of opioids and prevent withdrawal symptoms, are an effective tool in combatting overdose deaths. Combining medication with therapy and psychiatric care improves the chances of preventing relapse, and that combination is referred to as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Dr. Rodriguez has been providing MAT services in the Delray Beach are for almost two decades. If you are in need of help, we ask that you contact our office today to schedule an assessment.

 

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez

DABPN, DABAM, MRO