The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) just released its annual Drug Threat Assessment for 2016. There is disconcerting news in the Fentanyl update from the DEA.
The opioid epidemic is fueling a growing population of heroin users in the United States. Which, in turn, results in more overdoses and deaths. In 2014, about 129 Americans died every day from drug poisoning. More than half (61%) of the deaths involved opioids.
Acting Administrator Rosenberg said:
“We face a public health crisis of historic proportions. Countering it requires a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement, education, and treatment”
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic (man-made) opiate. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than Morphine or Heroin. Much Fentanyl is manufactured in China and smuggled to America for distribution in, or as, other drugs. It can be added to heroin, for example, to produce stronger affects. It has also shown up as an additive to other drugs like synthetic marijuana.
Mexican drug cartels are selling Fentanyl as heroin. It is cheaper to buy Fentanyl from China than it is to acquire poppy plants and process them into heroin. The highly powerful / concentrated nature of Fentanyl makes it impossible for distributors to control the strength of the product they sell. So often addicts will buy Fentanyl, thinking it is heroin. And they frequently overdose on it and die.
Illicit drug suppliers also market Fentanyl as prescription opioids like Oxycodone or Norco. Since the strength of the counterfeit opioid can vary dramatically, overdoses and deaths often result. Rock musician Prince died because he took Fentanyl, believing it was a prescription opioid.
Carfentanil is now showing up in American communities. It is a Fentanyl-related substance, 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It is marketed under the brand name Wildnil as an an anesthetic for horses.
Its extremely powerful / concentrated nature makes dosage control impossible by illicit drug distributors. So there is no consistent dosage product in their products. This year (2016) overdose deaths from heroin spiked with Carfentanil started showing up in Ohio.
The DEA’s 2016 Drug Threat Assessment reported cited other findings such as:
- Mexican drug cartels remain the largest distributors of Heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine in the United States. They are responsible for untold violent crime.
- Overdose deaths in the United States triples from 2010 and 2014.
- Methamphetamine remains widely available in the United States. And it continues to contribute to violent and property crime across the country.
- Cocaine availability and abuse increased significantly from 2014 to 2015.