It’s an opioid.
Opioids are powerful painkillers.
Heroin is highly addictive and its users crave it.
In the 1960’s, most heroin users claimed they had not used other drugs before trying heroin.
In the 2000’s, 75% of heroin users in treatment programs said they first abused prescription opioids (Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, etc.).
During that time period, the most commonly prescribed and abused opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, were involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid type.
So the government cracked down “over-prescribing” painkillers.
As a result, addicts, including some of the everyday moms and pops who’d developed their addictions due to treatments for chronic pain, etc., then turned to the easier to get and less expensive heroin.
It’s believed that 1 in 4 people in Huntington, W. Va, for example, is addicted to heroin or some other opioid.
Heroin dealers, as an attempt to increase potency, up the profits, and possibly to increase the number of addicted users, began “cutting” their products with fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use. Actually, Fentanyl that’s produced in illicit clandestine labs can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s lethal even at small doses.
Needless to say, heroin mixed with Fentanyl is a deadly combination. In Massachusetts alone, the number of opioid-related deaths in the first half of 2016 was estimated to be as high as 986, a 26 percent increase over the first six months of 2015.
Now, to further add to the trouble, there’s a new “elephant” in the room—Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid thats’s so potent that just a few granules the size of grains of salt can be lethal.
Carfentanil is an analog of Fentanyl, which means it’s sort of the same synthetic drug but with a twist, and in this case the twist is that Carfentanil is one of the most potent opioids known to man—10,000 times stronger than morphine (100 times stronger than Fentanyl). It is used as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants. It’s use/abuse by humans is extremely deadly. But, dealers have turned to the synthetics because they’re easy and cheap to produce, unlike having to tend to poppy fields and the subsequent conversion to morphine and heroin.
To compound this new trend, users are often buying Carfentanil laced with heroin instead of heroin laced/cut with another substance.
According to a recent Times Magazine article on the subject, approximately 300 people in just four states have overdosed within the past 30 days from heroin laced with Carfentanil and/or Fentanyl. In Hamilton County, Ohio alone, 48 people overdosed in a single day.
Since only a few specks of Carfentanil can be deadly, first responders have a fear of accidentally ingesting the drug and overdosing when helping patients.
The problem has grown to such overwhelming proportions that many police and EMS personnel now carry Narcan, a powerful nasal spray that counteracts opioid overdose. It’s use has now become so commonplace that a new slang term—Narcanned—has emerged.
“Man, I was so out of it last night the cops ‘narcanned’ me.”
“I’ve been narcanned four times in the past thirty days.”
What’s the solution? Well, I wish I had the answer because this terrible trend is hitting us all, and loved ones are dying. Because, well, sometimes “narcanning” simply doesn’t work.