Opiates are one of the biggest issues that law makers and recovery coaches are dealing with today. Grants are being applied to all across the country with the hope of putting diversion programs into place. The goal is to get addicts the help they need before the epidemic spreads and we lose more lives than we already have.
Adding to the already frightening mass of opiate users in the country, Sacramento has recently been the latest city to feel the effects of a synthetic opiate that has been killing drug abusers across the country for the last several years.
In recent months, a tablet known as a counterfeit version of Norco, has been the culprit in 42 overdoses and ten deaths. The tablets contain the drug fentanyl which is a strong, synthetic opioid that is fifty times more robust than heroin. These numbers go back to March 23, which is only a total of five months. A drastic loss of lives and it is only spreading. The original version of Norco is a painkiller that is used to help moderate to severe pain. It contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Federal authorities are typically the first to get word on overdoses and deaths due to such illegal substances, so they are keeping tabs on the numbers.
The drugs are categorized as “street drugs,” because they contain fentanyl and are created to look like the Norco pill.
There are two types of users: those who do not know that they are getting fentanyl in the counterfeit drug and those who actually seek the counterfeit drug out.
It was discovered that the majority of those who are addicted to heroin and other opioids admit that they have used fentanyl in addition to other drugs. “It’s hard to find heroin that doesn’t have at least some fentanyl in it,” said one addict by the name of Pete.
Some of the problem seems to stem from doctors offices, as many addicts got their start when they were prescribed pain killers for injuries. When Pete was prescribed morphine and a variety of other opiates, he became addicted and that is how is his life began to unfold. After Pete’s injury was mended, it became more and more difficult for him to find the painkillers, so in order to fill his need, he branched out to heroin.
In a recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, 75% of participants said that they initially got hooked on opiates because of prescription drugs. From there, the addiction escalates and branches out to other opioids. Quite opposite of this fact, 80 percent of opiates users in the 1960s, actually started with heroin.
In 2012, 23,000 people were killed by heroin, which is a five-fold increase in overdose deaths since 2001.
But Sacramento is certainly not the only city that has seen a drastic spike in the drug use. The entire country is overwhelmed with the epidemic, however; the overdoses in Sacramento are different due to the fact that the fentanyl was combined into bootleg prescription drugs that look like the real thing.
“The DEA urges the public not to take a prescription drug unless prescribed by your own physician and/or obtained from a reputable pharmacy,” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a warning posted on its website.