Fentanyl Contributing to Prescription Drug Epidemic, Causing Fatal Overdoses
New Jersey authorities face a new problem in the fight to curb prescription drug abuse and misuse. That’s because fentanyl, a highly powerful prescription painkiller, has now become the drug of choice for many addicts in NJ and many other areas of the United States.
Fentanyl works on the brain by creating feelings of euphoria, making it not unlike other prescription opioids. The difference, says Dr. Lewis Nelson, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician at NYU’s School of Medicine, is that fentanyl binds much quicker and more rapidly than other painkillers. The harmful physical consequences of using fentanyl include nausea and vomiting. In the worst cases, fentanyl can cause respiratory depression and respiratory arrest that lead to death.
Fentanyl is More Powerful than Heroin
Fentanyl is just the latest prescription drug that Americans are getting addicted to as doctors prescribe painkillers and other opioids at record numbers. The problem for many people who get hooked on prescription drugs is that they eventually turn to a cheaper alternative like heroin. This has created what the DEA recently referred to as an “epidemic,” marked by staggering numbers of heroin-related overdose deaths. In 2014, approximately 8,000 Americans died as a result of heroin overdoses.
When it comes to fentanyl, some addicts are turning to this particular drug because it is even more powerful than heroin. Tragically, the reason for the prescription opioid’s popularity – its potency – is also a reason for the recent rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths. In 2014, there were more than 18,000 deaths caused by prescription painkiller overdoses. In certain parts of the country, fentanyl-related deaths account for a large percentage of the total number of prescription opioid ODs. For example, Philadelphia saw a 300-percent rise in fentanyl-related OD deaths from 2013 to 2014, while fatal overdoses of fentanyl are currently at all-time highs in Northern California.
Accidental Overdoses of Fentanyl
One of the unique problems posed by fentanyl is that the highly powerful drug is often mixed with heroin and cocaine and then sold as those more expensive illegal drugs. When a drug buyer who doesn’t realize that they have purchased fentanyl ingests the opioid, they are far more likely to suffer a fatal overdose.
For additional information, read the Forbes.com article, “Why Fentanyl Is So Much More Deadly than Heroin.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with illegal possession of prescription drugs, heroin possession, cocaine possession, marijuana possession or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will help you fight your drug crime charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.