Fentanyl isn’t just dangerous; it’s deadly. So deadly, in fact, that Homeland Security is now considering classifying it as a WMD. We agree.
The Wrath of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is fast becoming the major player in the illicit drug market. And that’s setting off alarm bells in the Pentagon, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. It’s also setting off alarm bells with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“You’ve got to remember, fentanyl is 40 to 50 times stronger than regular street heroin,” said Jack Riley, former principal deputy administrator for the DEA. “This is, by far, the worst drug I’ve ever seen.”
By worst, Riley means deadliest. And the National Institute of Health (NIH) concurs.
“Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States,” says the NIH. More than 59% of 2017’s opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl. That’s a notable increase from the 14.3% in 2010.
“You have people who are addicted to prescription drugs,” says Riley. “They get the drugs either through legitimate prescriptions, buy it on the street, or they steal it out of their grandmother’s medicine cabinet. Whatever the means, it’s an opioid-based addiction. And when those prescription drugs become too expensive or hard to get, the next step is to use heroin.”
Making the Cut
Most of today’s heroin is cut with fentanyl. And that cut is killing more and more Americans.
A 2019 UN World Drug Report report claims North America is experiencing “a rising number of overdose deaths resulting from the use of opioids.” There was a 13% increase in the number of deaths in 2017 from 2016. And that increase was “largely attributed” to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The number of new fentanyl analogues has also been rising at an unprecedented rate. So have overdose rates.
“Heroin of old was really confined to a smaller user group,” Riley explained. “But today’s heroin is much higher proof. It’s also cheaper. And a lot of people snort it or smoke it, much like cocaine. This has attracted a whole different crew of users.”
North America is Ground Zero
A 2019 World Drug Report makes clear North America is the main market for fentanyl. The global market is also growing. In fact, just four countries reported seizures of the drug in 2013; while 12 countries did so in 2016. That number rose to 16 in 2017.
One of the biggest sources of fentanyl making its way through the U.S. is China. According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), China is the largest source of illicit fentanyl, as well as fentanyl-like substances in the U.S.
The DEA insists the best way to curb this flow of drugs is by working with the countries it’s originating from.
“We need to work with China,” says former DEA Chief of Operations Mike Vigil. “They’re going to need help monitoring the thousands of laboratories that are pushing that fentanyl.” And that means resources.
“We also really need to monitor the the movement of precursor chemicals so they don’t fall into the hands of criminal or transnational organized crime networks who will use them to produce fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.”
ALEF Fights Fentanyl
ALEF is committed to helping those who are suffering from the wrath of fentanyl and other opioids, synthetic or otherwise. In fact, that’s why we’re here. We provide top notch, evidence-based Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) that effectively treats Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). We employ the latest and most comprehensive addiction treatment techniques available. And we do so in a caring and professional clinical setting.
If you or your loved one is battling opioid addiction, of any kind whatsoever, please give us a call. We’re here to help, as well as to heal.