Remember Narcan-Resistant Fentanyl? Now Allegheny County, PA Breaks Record for Fatal Overdoses
As the years go on, so does the drug epidemic. Every year, I hope for a turnaround. I hope families across the nation need not endure the heartache and loss that addiction can create. Each year, I hope for lower numbers of fatal overdoses and each year, I hope for some much-needed good news. But unfortunately, each year I get the opposite. I get news stories of new fentanyl analogues responsible for killing thousands. I see coroner’s reports that they’re running out of storage room in local morgues. And I hear of local law enforcement and EMS scrambling to figure out where the fake Xanax came from and what they can do about it.
Last year in the Pittsburgh area, a new type of fentanyl analogue was found that seemed to be resistant to Narcan. Called Acryl-fentanyl, it was apparently hundreds of times more powerful than morphine and had no legitimate use. It was yet another synthetic drug mass-produced in China, smuggled into the U.S., and made its way into the drug supply. DEA Special Agent In-Charge David Battiste made a statement that it was unlikely that Narcan would be able to reverse the effects of this new fentanyl analogue and the consequences could be severe. And, it turns out, he was absolutely correct.
Allegheny County in Pennsylvania consistently breaks records year after year for fatal overdoses. Last year, over 650 people lost their lives in the county to drug overdoses and this year it’s projected that they will see more than 700 deaths. With fentanyl analogues running amuck in the area, it’s not surprising that this is happening. Fentanyl and it’s largely unknown and untested “knock offs” were found in 75% of overdose cases in the county last year, which is a more than 60% increase from the year before. County medical examiner, Dr. Karl Williams said that many of the overdose victims took multiple drugs besides opioids, however, there has been a definite rise in fatal OD’s solely caused by fentanyl.
I get a lot of bad news. I write these articles and report them not to upset or scare anyone, but to ensure the public has the raw data about what’s going on. If there’s something as scary as a type of Narcan-resistant fentanyl, I want everyone to know about it. I want someone to read my article and then talk to their kids about drugs and addiction. I want a mother to read one of our success stories and realize there’s still hope for her son. And I want an addict to read about the sheer amounts of fatal OD’s happening and decide to get help instead of copping another bag. That’s what I really want. I know I’m not going to save the world, but if I can save just one person or one family, then all my efforts are worthwhile. No one has to die. No one has to become a statistic in their town’s overdose tally. None of this is actually necessary. It’s easy to point fingers at China, the pharmaceutical companies, the shady doctors, and the Mexican drug cartels, but really, we as a society have the ultimate responsibility in all of this. Which also means that we, as a society, are the only ones who can fix this.