West Virginia Sees a 122 Percent Increase in Fatal Fentanyl Overdoses

Drug addict withdrawing from fentanyl

Fentanyl is one of those drugs that a lot of addicts have taken but didn’t mean to. The boom in fentanyl on city streets started around 2001 and it seemed to grow out of control from there. For those of you who didn’t know, fentanyl is a painkiller around 50 times more potent than heroin and has caused thousands upon thousands of deaths over the years.

As the problem has grown, fentanyl has been coming in all shapes and sizes and has been found to have been mixed in with drugs such as heroin, cocaine, meth, or marijuana. You can pretty much find fentanyl in anything. It can even be disguised as some other legitimate medication. Any way you view it, the problem is real and the problem is deadly.

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) recently funded a study conducted by West Virginia University and found that fentanyl-related deaths have been steadily increasing over the last decade. Between 2015 and 2017, deaths from the drug were up by 122 percent of what they were ten years earlier. The increase can be attributed to a large surge in imports of the drug from China and also the problem lies in just how the strong the drug actually is.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent drug. It only takes a minuscule amount to kill you and now that so many different versions or analogs of fentanyl exist, the side effects and potencies are relatively unknown to some degree. And the sketchy part of the whole thing is the fact that street dealers will mix random amounts of fentanyl into the bags they sell. One bag might be weak while the next bag from the same dealer is deadly. And that’s what happens when you trust your dealer, because I can promise you, they don’t have your best interest in mind. They do want your cash, however.

Luckily, Narcan is now widely available. Imagine how many deaths would have occurred had it not been? Narcan (Naloxone) is an opioid overdose reversal drug that can pop a person out of a fatal overdose and maybe give them one more shot at treatment and getting clean. Since Narcan became available over-the-counter at most pharmacies nationwide, countless lives have been saved just as death was knocking on the door.

West Virginia has been considered one of the worst states in regard to the opioid issue. Headlines come out of the state on an almost daily basis, documenting the chaos and destruction fentanyl, opiates, and other drugs have caused. The more the public are aware of what’s happening, the greater the chances will be of coming up with actual solutions. It’s great that pharmaceutical giants are starting to be held responsible for the role they’ve played in the epidemic, but the fact remains; the damage is done and it’s now up to us to sort it out.

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 11 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.