Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid originally developed to treat excruciating pain arising from cancer. Considered to be nearly 50 times stronger than heroin, it provides instant relief from pain. However, it is also used recreationally and often mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or alcohol to achieve a more dominant high. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2018 report, nearly 269,000 people aged 12 years and above have misused prescription fentanyl. Unfortunately, fentanyl has also been reported as the main cause in thousands of overdoses every year in the U.S.
Fentanyl is mainly sold mixed with heroin. Heroin supply has been divided by the river Mississippi. On the eastern side of the U.S., heroin is available as a white powder and on the west coast it comes in the form of a black tar, sticky solid in nature. As it is easier to lace fentanyl with the powdered heroin than the tar form, fentanyl, till now, was concentrated in eastern U.S. However, recent incidents of increasing number of people in California succumbing to fentanyl overdose and poisoning, indicate its presence in the western states as well.
The California Effect
California, also known as the land of sea and sand, is the epicenter of American cinema and is a perennial party state. Add to this the fact that California shares its border with Baja, a Mexican state. The constant partying and the proximity to Mexico increases the propensity of fentanyl, the deadliest drug in U.S. history, to finally make an appearance in the state. California is also one of the 29 selected states which is funded by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to combat the opioid crisis the state is currently facing.
Experts like Dr. Patil Armenian, an emergency physician and medical toxicologist at the University of California, San Francisco, believe that the ongoing opioid crisis is a result of giving undue importance to pain control through medication in the 1990s without thinking about the repercussions. She feels that despite the drop in the rates of opioid prescription in recent years, it is too late to control the crisis. For a user, a doctor’s prescription is not the only way to obtain the drug. According to the preliminary estimates released by the CDC, 32,000 deaths out of the total 47,600 opioid overdose deaths in 2018, were attributed to fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives.
The U.S. authorities first noticed the opioid epidemic in the late 1990s. Initially, it started with pain relievers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, which acted as gateway drugs to heroin and methadone. Until 2014, heroin was the most preferred choice of illicit drugs amongst its users. Slowly, the trend shifted to fentanyl with cartels and traffickers using it to increase the potency of their particular drug. It has been reported that every state in the country has had at least one batch of heroin laced with fentanyl.
The primary source of fentanyl is the pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers of China which is not a well-regulated market. The drug manufactured, is shipped to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada via huge freights where it is mixed with heroin and other drugs. It is then packed and smuggled into California and other states.
The scariest part of fentanyl is that the illegal manufacturers have no idea about the dosage. As the drug is manufactured illegally, there are no rules that govern its production. This means that a batch may be much more potent than expected. When mixed with other powerful drugs like cocaine, it can also lead to cross contamination leading to instant poisoning and overdose.
Fentanyl itself is highly potent and using it to lace other drugs significantly increases the chances of an overdose. Moreover, majority of the users are unaware of the presence of fentanyl in their drugs, again increasing the chances of an overdose.
From an economic point of view, one kilo of wholesale fentanyl in China costs about $2,000-$3,000 however, after adulteration, every kilo is sold for about $5 million to $20 million in the U.S. This huge profit margin has actually led many of the drug cartels, traffickers, and manufactures to expand into the fentanyl business.
Road to recovery
An addiction to a drug has many short- and long-term consequences. Apart from affecting the individual abusing the drug, it also affects their friends, colleagues, families, and other acquaintances. Therefore, it is important that an individual addicted to drugs seeks treatment at the earliest.
A comprehensive drug addiction treatment program involves a combination of a detoxification process along with therapy and counselling sessions. While detox helps in flushing out the toxins from the body, managing the withdrawal symptoms, and preparing the mind and body for treatment, therapy helps the patient learn various coping mechanisms to deal with daily life issues without being dependent on drugs.
If you or someone you know is battling an addiction and is looking for drug addiction treatment centers in California, then get in touch with California Drug Addiction Helpline. Our professionals can help you with all the information you require about drug rehab centers in California. You can either call our 24/7 drug addiction treatment helpline 855-980-1946 or chat online with a representative for further assistance.