At a recent community event, I listened to Rob Reed from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office speak to the issue of opioid addiction. Across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there is an epidemic that has resulted in 5400 deaths due to overdoses. This epidemic has also created an 81% increase in emergency room admissions due to overdoses.
Our court systems, hospitals, and drug treatment facilities are completely overwhelmed, and finding treatment for addictions is quite difficult because there are just not enough placements available to meet the demand.
Powerful synthetic drugs are now more widely available.
More powerful drugs are prevalent, including the latest popular drug, Carfentanil.
Carfentanil is the analog (synthetic chemical compound often referred to as a designer drug) with similar properties of the potent opioid drug Fentanyl, which is legally used in combination with other drugs for anesthesia.
While Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, Carfentanil can be 100 times more potent than Fentanyl; meaning, it is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
Carfentanil is not approved for use in humans in any capacity.
It is typically used in veterinary medicine to sedate large animals, primarily elephants. In fact, the drug is so powerful that when veterinarians handle Carfentanil, they use protective gear so they don’t breathe in or absorb it through their skin.
This rapid absorption and metabolism factor partially explains why we are having such a rise in opioid overdoses.
By not knowing the how to use this drug or being unaware of its impact, one can easily overdose with this volatile and powerful substance. Further, individuals may not know they are taking Carfentanil as heroin is frequently laced with it.
Very small doses of Carfentanil can stop a human being from breathing in just a few seconds. Without immediate intervention, the individual will die from that overdose.
Its potency is far beyond most any drug on the market and it is being sold with reckless abandon. It is critical that we know about this drug being used all over our state and our country.
If someone you know is addicted to Heroin, Fentanyl or Carfentanil, you should get them help for their addiction. Also it is a good idea to have a supply of NARCAN (naloxone HCI) available. NARCAN is a spray that can be used to revive someone who has stopped breathing from an opioid overdose. Obviously anytime there is a drug overdose call 911 immediately even if NARCAN is administered.
Opioid abuse has created a crisis of a huge magnitude in our country.
The reality of this crisis is that approximately 75% of addicted drug users have a history of trauma. Therefore, to deal with the drug crisis effectively, we also need to address the personal narrative the drug abuser may have which contributes to their underlying history of traumatic experiences.
The problem is complex but there is hope with proper treatment and support.
However, we must all be alert and aware of those around us who are attempting to overcome opioid addiction. We must pay close attention to the warning signs they may be heading for the tragedy of an overdose.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO