The American opioid crisis has worsened in many regions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The main driving factor for it has been fentanyl abuse and addiction. Now, health experts are worried that the number of overdose deaths across the country could exceed 100,000 for the first time in a 12-month stretch.
What is causing the apparent surge in fentanyl abuse?
- Pandemic stress: Everyone is worried about the future of the country and the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some people will deal with stress by exercising, cleaning the house, binging TV shows, etc. But others turn to unhealthy “coping” mechanisms like drug use. As day-to-day stresses increase, the risk of people turning to narcotics during dark moments increases, too.
- Street-level drugs: Fentanyl is not commonly prescribed due to its potency and steep risk of addiction. However, fentanyl is still becoming more and more common because it is being laced into more and more “street-level” drugs sold through illegal means. Specifically, it is suspected that drug cartels have begun putting a few milligrams of fentanyl in other drugs they manufacture to trigger an instant addiction in users. Yet it only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl before the dose reaches a potentially lethal potency.
Damage Beyond Overdoses
Every overdose, fatal or nonfatal, is a tragedy. It is a thick underlining of the opioid crisis and a grim reminder that it needs to be addressed better now.
As fentanyl abuse worsens across the country, though, health experts and safety organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warn that the damage of fentanyl is not isolated to a singular user who risks their immediate health whenever taking a dose. Fentanyl’s damage is far-reaching because everyone who knows someone who is addicted will be impacted by that addiction in one way or another.
Family members of people who fatally overdose will be emotionally devastated. If that person was the breadwinner in their family, then financial devastation can soon follow. Coworkers and employers can be harrowed by the loss of a friend, dropping production and morale. In the bigger picture, ICU beds are filling up with COVID patients and people who are recovering from an opioid overdose, which makes hospitals less effective for everyone.
The harm that one dose of fentanyl causes is far-reaching, which is why it is so important that everyone thinks about how they can help end the opioid crisis. For many of us, helping everyone means helping someone we know who is struggling with drug addiction. If you know someone in need of support, you can help today by looking for a local drug rehab center that might be able to guide them down the path of recovery.
For more information about the fentanyl crisis, you can click here to listen to a recent NPR podcast: Fentanyl is one reason why the U.S. drug addiction crisis is roaring back. If you live in Arizona and need help fighting drug addiction, or want the information to help a loved one, you can contact Decision Point Center and our drug rehab specialists at any time.