Heroin, one of the most dangerous opioids sold on the street today, has now reached a whole new level of risk. Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a national alert, warning of a surge in overdose deaths from heroin laced with the potent narcotic fentanyl. Fentanyl is used to increase the effects of heroin exponentially, but the result is often fatal overdoses for users. Fentanyl use has increased at an alarming rate since 2014, and many users may not know the heroin they buy on the street includes this deadly opioid.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful opiate up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Its primary use in the medical realm is to make patients in the final stages of terminal illnesses more comfortable or to manage pain immediately following surgery. The drug is so strong, it is typically prescribed in micrograms, rather than the usual milligrams of other drugs. When used for non-medical reasons, the drug is 30-50 times more powerful than heroin and much deadlier as well.
A Deadly Spike
Law enforcement officials around the country have seen a deadly spike in fentanyl-laced heroin sold on the street. The Washington Post reported that Maryland saw 185 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, versus 58 in 2013. In the first quarter of this year, the city of Baltimore had already seen 39 deaths related to the drug. The DEA has also noted multiple deaths from Fentanyl in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan. Several fentanyl seizures were made in California in 2014, which were eventually traced to a Mexican drug cartel, according to USA Today.
Dangers to Law Enforcement
In addition to warning users about the risk, the DEA has also advised law enforcement officials to exercise extreme caution when exposed to fentanyl. The drug has been shown to have negative effects when absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the lungs. The DEA is concerned officials will be exposed to the dangerous substance when working on the streets in buy-bust operations.
The National Forensic Laboratory Information System received 3,344 fentanyl submissions in 2014, up more than 900 over the previous year. The DEA has also identified 15 other fentanyl-related compounds in the country. The availability of the drug may be contributing to its increasing presence on the street, as well as the spike in fentanyl-related overdoses.
If you are struggling with a heroin addiction, the dangers are greater now than ever before. Now is the time to deal with your addiction and get on the path to a healthy recovery. To get the help you need today, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.