Fentanyl and COVID-19 May Have Made the Opioid Epidemic Even Deadlier

The shocking rise in deaths from drug overdoses shocked even the most hardened observers of American addiction. 100,306 deadAccording to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, this was the first 12-month stretch in which the toll exceeded six figures between April 2020 and April 2021. Data updated Yesterday’s releaseThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified one possible culprit as illegally produced fentanyl. This synthetic opioid can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and is referred by them. When used legally, with a doctor’s prescription, this class of drugs is meant to help people experiencing severe pain caused by cancer and other ailments.
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Illicit fentanyl The first appearance to replace or adulterate white powder heroin in the eastern U.S, but it’s increasingly spreading throughout the country, according to the new data. It’s reaching more illegal drug users, including users of other drugs as its mixed in with stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as users of more traditional opioids in parts of the U.S. where fentanyl has not previously been common.

The CDC has found that fentanyl-involved death rose substantially when compared to July 2019 and December 2020. In the West they increased by 93.9% (955 to 1,852 deaths); South 64.7% (2 636 to 4,342 deaths); Midwest 33.1% (1,510 – 2,010 deaths).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that this is one of the issues. WarnedDealers sometimes sell fentanyl mixed with other drugs. This is often not known to buyers. The new data shows that approximately 45% of those who died from fentanyl poisoning in 2020 were also tested positive for methamphetamine or cocaine, as opposed to 40% last year.

Even small amounts of Fentanyl can have deadly side effects if they are combined with other drugs, or if it is spread to new areas, Thomas Stopka (associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine’s department of community and public health) says. What makes it particularly dangerous, he says, is that it’s being used by people who are comparatively “opioid naive.” That is, they haven’t used such a potent opioid before, or they haven’t used opioids at all. Stopka claims that the trend is more pronounced during the epidemic.

“Fentanyl is even more ubiquitous across the United States. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen fentanyl appear in many communities where it hadn’t been appearing previously,” he says. “There could be many more people who’ve not been exposed to this potency of opioids.”

The number of opioid-dependent people who have overdosed on heroin has increased dramatically in the past few years. This includes younger, more affluent whites, as well as those living in inner cities. This has had a significant impact on a rising number of Black people. According to research, the rate of death is very high.from heroin and synthetic opioids. According to Published study on four states In the American Journal of Public HealthBlack people saw an increase of 38% in opioid-related overdose deaths between 2018 and 2019. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, says that fentanyl is so potent, its spread has even hurt some of the most experienced drug users—primarily urban, poor, Black and Latino men who survived after becoming addicted to heroin decades ago. “[They] managed to beat the odds for 40 or 50 years,” says Kolodny. “When the heroin supply became so dangerous, they started dying in very high numbers.”

People may be more susceptible to addiction or overdoses from opioids due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It disrupted treatment programs for drug addicts and adversely affected their mental health.Research has demonstrated that it increases drug abuse. It may have also expedited fentanyl’s spread across the U.S., Kolodny explains. The pandemic interrupted crossings at the U.S.’s southern border, and drug traffickers may have favored fentanyl over heroin, since the former is less bulky, and easier to carry or ship in the mail.

Kolodny claims that even if there was no pandemic, the opioid crisis would have been worse in 2017. The opioid overdose deaths rate has increased. almost continuouslyFor the past two decades.

“We’re 25 years into this crisis,” says Kolodny. “Had we not experienced COVID, maybe it wouldn’t have been 100,000 deaths in a 12-month period. It would still have resulted in a very high death rate, which should be unacceptable. And yet we’re still not taking appropriate action.”


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