People who use drugs have started dying from accidental drug overdoses. For many of them, they believed they were taking Molly, Oxycontin, or another pill bought from an online drug dealer. Sadly, just one pill has led to many overdose deaths. People have begun to gather in person; overdoses seem to have accelerated. Many concerned parents and community members now carry Narcan to help reverse an overdose in progress. And now, in New York, determined drug users test their drugs to see if they’re tainted with fentanyl.
Fentanyl Is In Almost Every Street Drug
The pandemic has hung over an increasingly unsettled population for the past three years. The pandemic brought about economic issues and inflation. Some people lost members of their families. News stories are still permeated about how COVID has reshaped us. This includes how people buy and use drugs.
During the pandemic, the supply chain for illicit drugs was interrupted. Many cities threatened penalties if people went out in person. So many people, including minors, began to buy from strangers online. Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Signal are all places where drug dealers have flocked to sell their goods. They offer discreet drop-offs inside a door or mailbox.
Fentanyl Deaths Are an Urgent Public Health Crisis
Fentanyl is the leading killer of Americans between 18 and 49. An uptick in fentanyl overdoses came during the pandemic, some due to what experts call “deaths of despair.” These deaths reflected a growing sadness and isolation among the population. As a result, more people were drinking and using drugs than ever.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is typically used for surgery and prescribed for extreme pain. It is incredibly potent, but people DO use it recreationally. However, in 2019, it began popping up in other drugs. As a result, people who thought they were using heroin or Oxycontin ended up taking a drug 50 to 100 times as strong. This has led to hundreds of thousands of overdoses.
Harm Reductions: Finding Solutions Until Fentanyl Is Eradicated
After a spate of overdoses on school properties, California has now passed and funded legislation requiring schools to keep a supply of Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug, on school property. And now, In New York, nightclubs are given a free collection of testing strips that help drug users test for fentanyl. The same clubs are stocked with Naloxone, the opioid-overdose reversal drug. Most of the testing strips are gone by the end of the night. Amazon even sells them for people nervous about getting hold of their own supply; however, they are not legal in every state.
Prevention campaigns are taking place as well amongst communities. It’s easier to prevent overdoses by preventing drug use in the first place. Many efforts are being made on a federal level to get fentanyl out of the US. The US government is currently working with China to halt all export of fentanyl and other analogs to the US and other countries. The FENTANYL Results Act would help fund the endeavor.