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Those Drugs Might Not Be What You Think They Are

by Taylor Hartman

In the United States alone there were 88,000 deaths at the end of August 2020 due to
drug overdoses that occurred just months before COVID-19 hit in march 2020 (1). The problem
has been made worse by Fentanyl; it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine (1). The risk
of overdose and how people die happens when there is fentanyl given or in medications due to its
potency and lethality. There is an even higher risk when people have 0 tolerance for fentanyl or
are unaware it is in what they may be ingesting where it can become especially dangerous (1).
This problem affects about 100,000 people each year and opioids alone cause 7 out of 10
overdose deaths (1). From 2018 to 2019 there was a 16 percent increase in overdoses involving
synthetic opioid drugs (2). The problem this holds is extreme for young adults between the ages
of 18 and 25 taking unprescribed opioids and heavy problems with people 26+ that are
prescribed(1).

SAMHSA also known as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration is an organization that wants to advance the behavioral health of our nation (1).
They want to help improve the lives of individuals living with mental and substance use and
abuse disorders(1). They were created to help make access to help for recovering or wanting to
recover addicts way easier than ever before (1). They suggest better surveillance of public
health, less access to how and who receives it, and better/improved access to other treatments for
what you may be needing the opioids for (1). They have announced that the government may
now use “rapid fentanyl test strips” in hopes to show any drugs that have been cut or mixed in
with fentanyl(1). Drugs like cocaine and heroin are “cut” in with other drugs like fentanyl to
enhance the effect while using the drug to be more euphoric (1). The test strips are created to
decrease the number of drug overdoses (1). You simply just lay it flat with some of the drug
diluted in water on the end and if it has one line it’s positive and two if negative (1).

If you see someone you know, a friend of a friend, or simply just want to raise awareness
you can always try to talk to them about it, post campaigns/ articles, and follow up with websites
that are raising awareness(2). CDC explains that there can be a wider distribution of opioids but
at a lesser amount, broaden overdose education and awareness, improve access and try to
intervene early with close members who you may think are at risk of overdosing (2). As we have
all been inside or hidden away during the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020 there have been
increased overdose deaths because many people turned to it as a way of stress relief or coping
mechanism (2). A CDC article brings up five ways to help awareness of overdosing or misusing
drugs (3). They want to conduct surveillance and research, build capacity from local to
governmental agencies, create better access to support, build relationships with public safety, and
encourage consumers to make safe choices (3). The last thing that is a new push is the FTS
where you can go online and get them shipped to you and are very inexpensive products to help save your life (5). These are just some efforts to bring more awareness to people who are addicts to reach out because people do want to help. Also, provide more information to younger generations all around the country to be aware of what drugs are (3).

Resources:

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website resources.
    https://www.samhsa.gov/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
    https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/fentanyl.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
    https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/framework/index.html
  4. Overdose prevention and Education Network website.
    https://odprevention.org/what-is-an-overdose/
  5. Fentanyl Testing to Prevent Overdose pdf.
    https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/ExhibitDocument/OpenExhibitDocumen
    t?exhibitId=52569&fileDownloadName=AB345_Fentanyl%20Test%20Strips%20Infosh
    eet_Dr.%20Stephanie%20Woodard_DHHS.pdf

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