(AP) Deaths associated with fentanyl overdoses increase almost 70 percent compared with last year, as reported by the Washington State…
Deaths associated with fentanyl overdoses increase almost 70 percent compared with last year, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH). But that number does not give the full scope of state drug problems.
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So why does this happen? In order to understand the problem, some context is needed.
Caleb Banta-Green, the basic researcher at the UW Institute for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, pointed out that while the rate of overdose of fentanyl has increased, the overall opioid-related rate of overdose deaths in the Washington state has actually remained flat during the recent decade and hovering around 700 a year.
What happens is not an increase of overdosage, as much as an increase in the way people are overdose.
Banta-Green described how many years ago “we saw an increase in prescription opiates. Then it began to decline and we saw heroin take its place, the heroin level of a little bit and fentanyl takes its place as another illegal opioid. “
Even when opiate recipes decrease, demand and addiction continue. What follows is that people who depend on pain relievers usually upgrade to cheaper, more accessible alternatives such as heroin. Enter fentanyl, an even cheaper and more dangerous alternative that masks as prescription painkillers.
“People will often try to use pills instead of heroin because it is considered safer,” explained Banta-Green. “Historically, it may also have been true, but now you get what looks like an oxycodone tablet, and there’s no oxycodone at all ̵
1; it’s fentanyl of unknown amount and purity.”
A press release from WSDOH showed that “during the first half of 2018 there were 81 deaths associated with fentanyl compared to 48 deaths recorded during the same period last year.”
Fentanyl is currently in counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opiates such as oxycodone. The risk stems from the fact that fentanyl is somewhere 30 to 50 times as strong as pure heroin, and “a dose of the size of a few salt grains can be fatal to a medium person.”
The reason for dealers and illegal importers is simple: profit.
“Fentanyl is 30 times stronger than heroin, that is, getting the same number of people as high, you only need to send in a thirty-third,” Banta- Green.
This has seen East Coast beats particularly hard, even more than Washington.
“Washington is actually hit quite easily [by fentanyl overdoses] compared to the rest of the country – New York City has seen a global increase in the death rate on over 50 percent completely driven by fentanyl, “said Banta-Green.
All that is, there are actions taken by the state to fight the epidemic. The healthcare recovery center is designed as an outlet for anyone suffering from addiction, and get people the same day access to barrier medicine such as buprenorphine that can help recover a drug addict completely from heroin.
“Opiate addiction is a treatable addiction spirit, “pointed out Banta-Green.” The most evidence-based interventions are treatment medicine, the treatment medications support people in their recovery and they reduce the risk of an overdose death by 50 percent. “
You can reach the state’s confidential recovery helpline at 1 -866-789-1511. WSDOH also recommends users to wear naloxone to protect against overdose – you can find out where naloxone is near you here.
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