The United States may peak 100,000 overdose deaths in a single 12 month period for the first time. The black market fentanyl is adding to the problem as most street drugs are now contaminated.
Drug abuse and addiction presently have national attention, and everyone is looking, watching, researching, and attempting to help make a difference, yet the problem is getting worse. Public health officials indicate two significant factors – the black market of Fentanyl and, of course, the COVID19 pandemic.
The pandemic complicates the lives, including people in recovery, seeking treatment, and managing the stresses of COVID19 with drug abuse. In addition, the pandemic adds a new strain on millions of people in the United States who are already struggling with addiction.
There has been a widespread of Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid. The trends are frightening as the black market fentanyl seems to be everywhere. The increase in fatal overdoses is tragic, as are the complexities accompanying each of them as we approach the 100,000 death toll.
Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, the states currently impacted the most, where fentanyl-related deaths more than doubled in 2020.
Throughout the nation, painkillers were overprescribed. People become addicted. Because of federal regulators, fewer prescriptions are being written. Mexican cartels are meeting the demand with black-market fentanyl, fake pills. They are designed to look like OxyContin or other opioids, but they’re fentanyl which is less expensive and, sadly, more likely to cause an overdose.
The fake pills are sometimes in a medication bottle with a label and name as if they had come from a pharmacy. The DEA reports about a quarter of fentanyl pills they have seized contain enough Fentanyl to kill. Additionally, they report that fentanyl coming from Mexico has doubled every year for the last four years.
People are using and being killed by illegal drugs. The best thing to do is to avoid them; however, since people continue to buy and use them, there are methods to determine if the drugs are contaminated. Beginning in April 2021, states could start using federal grants to purchase fentanyl test strips, ideally to halt the overdoses. The strip can be dipped into a solution