It is no secret that Virginia is hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Misuse and abuse of opioids lead to addiction, criminal punishments and deaths. The number of opioid overdose deaths in 2016 was a staggering 1,133.
One piece of information is important to understanding this crisis: what drug is causing the most harm. While a lot of people may assume prescription opioids or heroin is to blame, there is another substance behind the majority of these deaths.
Fentanyl is the deadliest drug
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, fentanyl is responsible for 618 of the 1,133 opioid fatalities in 2016. This is mainly due to the economics of the substance. Fentanyl is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin because people can do this in a warehouse. Many drug dealers also inconspicuously add fentanyl to heroin to make a better profit. This means many people who are using fentanyl and dying from it may not even realize they are using it.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that relieves pain. It is approximately 100 times stronger than morphine. When prescribed by a doctor, it is usually for chronic pain, surgery recovery or pain related to cancer. It is popular among illegal drug markets because it has a similar effect to heroin.
Dangers of fentanyl
Fentanyl can result in the following:
Deadly overdoses are possible because fentanyl impacts the area of the brain that controls the breathing rate. High doses of fentanyl may cause a user to stop breathing. When people mix fentanyl with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine, they can amplify the risk of death.
Knowing about the prevalence and risks of fentanyl is the first step to playing a role in stopping the epidemic. If you or anyone you know is facing problems with fentanyl, be sure to consider seeking treatment and legal assistance.