Fentanyl Responsible for Most Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States

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Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than street heroin, has become a major player problem in the illicit drug market. Now, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), fentanyl is responsible for the most overdose deaths in America, with no signs of it slowing down in the future. 

Fentanyl has become such a danger to society, the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have even reportedly considered classifying the drug as a weapon of mass destruction. In an internal memo, DHS assistant secretary James F. McDonnell states: “Fentanyl’s high toxicity and increasing availability are attractive to threat actors seeking nonconventional materials for a chemical weapons attack.”

The US is one of the major markets for fentanyl, but global demand for the drug is growing. One of the main sources of this synthetic opioid is that of China. According to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China is the primary source of both illicit fentanyl as well as other similar derivation of the drug. 

Due to the drug being relatively inexpensive and easier to produce than heroin, fentanyl has spread like wildfire through American communities. The cycle usually follows users who become addicted to prescription drugs, either from legitimate prescriptions or out on the street. Once pills become too expensive, users turn to heroin. But as fentanyl promises a stronger high and overall cheaper costs, thousands are turning to it. 

Perhaps more concerning is that we are seeing fentanyl being used as a cutting agent in other illicit substances. Several cases in San Diego include people who suffered fentanyl overdoses when they believed to be using cocaine. Investigations led police to arrest a Chula Vista man who was dealing the fentanyl-laced cocaine. Upon searching his home, investigators found cocaine and fentanyl, along with scales and documents detailing shipments and deliveries of the illicit substances from across the border. 

Another instance is the current flood of blue pills in San Diego County being sold as synthetic oxycodone. Scored with an “M” in a box on one side, and a “30” with a line down the center on the other, these pills are most likely responsible for the deaths of at least four individuals in the northern and eastern parts of the county within the last week. 

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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