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How Fentanyl Is Causing An Increase In Drug Overdoses

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a strong artificial opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a popular choice among drug traffickers due to its lower production cost. However, the increased availability of Fentanyl is causing an alarming increase in drug overdoses, particularly in the United States. The opioid epidemic caused by Fentanyl has taken a heavy toll on communities across the country, and it’s a complex problem that requires a comprehensive approach to solve.

Background on Fentanyl

Fentanyl was first developed in the 1960s as a powerful pain medication for cancer patients and others who suffer from chronic pain. During that time, it was approved for medical use in the United States. Since it has been prescribed for a variety of reasons. These include a general anesthetic and a pain medication for cancer patients and others who suffer from chronic pain.

However, the rise of illegal Fentanyl has been a major contributor to the opioid crisis in the United States. Drug traffickers have been able to create and distribute illegal versions of Fentanyl. These illegal versions are often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. They are then sold on the street. This has led to an increase in overdose deaths. This is because many people who use these drugs are not aware that they contain Fentanyl. Meaning they are not prepared for the drug’s potency.

The Rise of Fentanyl-related Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl is now the most commonly detected opioid in opioid overdose deaths, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2018, Fentanyl was involved in nearly 30% of all opioid overdose deaths in the United States. This is a significant increase from just a few years ago when Fentanyl was involved in less than 5% of opioid overdose deaths. (1)

The problem is particularly severe in certain regions of the country. For example, in Ohio, Fentanyl was involved in more than 80% of opioid overdose deaths in 2018. In Massachusetts, the number was over 70%. In addition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. These states have one of the highest overdose death rates related to fentanyl use. (2)

The increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is not just limited to the United States. Canada is also experiencing a significant increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths. In 2022, Fentanyl was responsible for over 76% of all opioid overdose deaths in Canada. (3)

The Impact of Fentanyl on Communities

Regional differences and overdose rates are critical to understanding when addressing the opioid epidemic caused by Fentanyl. Fentanyl use and overdose deaths vary widely across the United States. In fact, some regions experience a much higher rate of overdose deaths than others.

States such as Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire have been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. These states have the highest overdose death rates related to fentanyl use. These regional differences can be due to a variety of factors. These factors include things such as the availability of the drug, the demographics of the population, and the level of access to addiction treatment and harm reduction services. Understanding the specific challenges and issues faced by different communities is essential for developing effective strategies to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives. (2)

The Dangers of Fentanyl

The rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is a cause for concern for organizations working to combat the opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is extremely potent. Even a small amount can cause an overdose. It is also often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. This makes it even more dangerous.

One of the challenges in addressing the increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is the fact that Fentanyl is often sold as a counterfeit version of other drugs. For example, it may be sold as fake Oxycodone pills or as a powder that is labeled as heroin. This makes it difficult for people to know if they are buying and using Fentanyl. (4)

Additionally, Fentanyl can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. This makes it even more dangerous as it can be easily mishandled or accidentally consumed. This is particularly concerning as the drug is now being used to cut other street drugs, such as cocaine. Because of this, we are seeing an increase in accidental overdose cases.

The Role of Technology in Detecting and Tracking Fentanyl

The role of technology in detecting and tracking Fentanyl is an important aspect of addressing the opioid epidemic caused by Fentanyl. As the drug is often mixed with other substances and sold as counterfeit versions of other drugs, it’s hard to identify it, making it harder to track and control its distribution. (5)

Technology can play a critical role in detecting and tracking the presence of Fentanyl in drugs. It can also help identify the source of the drug. Keystone Labs, for example, is working to develop new technologies that can detect the presence of Fentanyl in drugs quickly and accurately. This can help identify the sources of the drug and disrupt the distribution chain. It will also help people make informed decisions about the drugs they are using.

Additionally, technology can also help law enforcement agencies to detect and seize illegal Fentanyl and monitor and track drug trafficking activities. By using technology to detect and track Fentanyl, organizations like Keystone Labs and government agencies can be more effective in combatting the opioid epidemic and saving lives.

Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

To combat the opioid epidemic, Keystone Labs and other organizations are working to increase awareness of the dangers of Fentanyl. We want to provide education and resources to help people avoid using the drug. Additionally, Keystone Labs is working to develop new technologies that can help detect the presence of Fentanyl in drugs, so that people can be more aware of their risks.

The increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is a serious problem that requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society. Keystone Labs is committed to playing its part in addressing this crisis. Our organization is working to develop new technologies that can detect the presence of Fentanyl in drugs, provide education and resources to help people avoid using the drug, and increase awareness of the dangers of Fentanyl. By working together, Keystone Labs and other organizations can help reduce the number of overdose deaths caused by Fentanyl and combat the opioid epidemic.

Work With A Trusted Toxicology Expert

Keystone Laboratories, a CAP-accredited North Carolina licensed laboratory and CLIA-licensed lab, is committed to helping you make important decisions that impact the safety and health of your patients with greater confidence. Clients in 48 states can get prescription drug and substance abuse recovery monitoring, specialized testing, workplace drug testing, screening, and program management services from Keystone. Contact Keystone Laboratories today to receive the industry-leading laboratory testing services!

Fentanyl Drug Overdose
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