We recently entered a new year, and the opioid epidemic remains a major problem in the United States. A recent report by Bloomberg has estimated a surge in overdose deaths due to the rise of fentanyl in recent years.
According to the report, in 2021, more than 80,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Fentanyl was a contributing factor in 88% of these fatalities. Let’s look at the four important points from the report to consider when looking at the opioid epidemic.
Lesson #1: Synthetic opioids are flooding across the southern border of the U.S.
A few years ago, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and scientists became part of a special operation called Operation Sustain. Its goal was to stop the flow of fentanyl and other drugs smuggled into international mail and express courier facilities, directly impacting many overdose fatalities.
Steven Stavinoha, CBP’s director of field operations for the New Orleans Field Office, claimed that the pandemic had worsened drug smuggling.
Lesson #2: The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic aided in the development of fentanyl
The opioid epidemic has long been a major threat to public health. But when the world changed in 2020, the threat became a source of catastrophic risk. The pandemic drove everyone, from teenagers to older Americans, into boredom and isolation, which led many of them to turn to illegal drugs.
From acute pain to chronic pain, people were looking for a way to cope with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. This led to more people demanding opioids like fentanyl.
Lesson #3: Fentanyl is more powerful than we think
The general public is mostly aware that morphine and heroin have been linked with opioid-related overdose. But how much do you know about fentanyl?
This fact should scare everyone: fentanyl can cause a fatal overdose, leading to death in some cases, with as little as two milligrams. That makes it 100 times more powerful than prescription opioids and 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Lesson #4: The opioid-related overdose deaths pandemic is not just about addiction
Opioid addiction is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted approach from healthcare providers. Preventing drug overdose deaths is not just about law enforcement and criminal justice but also mental health services.
For example, Florida is one state that takes action into its own hands. Three major Health Affairs are working together to build Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE). The network is helping patients beyond emergency response with things like getting a job, finding a place to live, or making sure people have enough food. It is exactly the kind of approach from healthcare professionals needed to tackle the opioid epidemic.
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At Opiate Detox Institute, we understand that opioid and opiate withdrawal can be difficult. We offer a different approach to our opioid treatment programs and combine our services into one bundle pack to reduce costs, so patients can avoid worry and focus on healing.