On Wednesday, New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo held a press hearing to discuss a move implementing a significant crack-down on deadly pharmaceutical opioid drug fentanyl. Less than 24 hours before Governor Cuomo made the announcement; there were 14 overdoses in a four-hour time frame due to the synthetic opioid just down the road in Camden, New Jersey. Camden County, NJ ranks one in New Jersey’s heroin overdose frequency. 
Drug overdose is the number one cause of death for Americans who are under age 50. Many state legislations report the overdose spike is related to the easily-accessible, synthetic opioid made by pharmaceutical companies.  FENTANYL is the name for those not paying attention to the opioid, AKA heroin, and for now, it is also the fentanyl epidemic. Puzzled parents and loved ones of opioid-dependent addicts now with more reason to fear a knock at the door or the phone ringing. They’re left to question, “What is fentanyl?” and “What are we doing to stop the never-ending, always-growing opioid & fentanyl epidemic?”
What does fentanyl look like?
There are really no distinct traits of fentanyl that make it stand out from heroin, cocaine or any other street drugs. The color is usually white or tan, when in powder form. However, there are many unique forms or “faces” of fentanyl. This is yet another reason it is so dangerous: the many ways it is produced, prescribed, smuggled, manufactured, and/or ordered into the wrong hands.
Not to mention, the staggering number of “research chemicals” that are coming from the internet, under the radar. These chemicals are shipped with a label, identifying them with a scientific formula. They also have a name, usually complex, with the drug name somehow mixed into it i.e. methoxyacetyl-fentanyl powder. The label will have something like, “USE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY” or “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION,” which is or once was a way of reducing penalties for possession. This is some frightening information. That means that anyone with internet access, an address, and credit card can simply click the “I certify that I am 18 or older” checkbox and “research chemicals” will be delivered! Most of these chemicals are made in a lab, usually in China, and shipped from the same place.
What is fentanyl used for?
Fentanyl is classified as an analgesic, commonly known as an opioid pain medication like morphine and OxyContin. The only similarity between fentanyl and morphine is just that, their classification. Differences, there are a bunch, the biggest being the strength of fentanyl. This lethal drug packs 50-100 times the power of morphine. Some forms of fentanyl analogs carry up to 10,000 times the potency levels we commonly see in prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, morphine, and Dilaudid. 
Celebrity Usage Exposed
Other common methods of delivery include gel patches and fentanyl lollipops. Media and many celebrities including pop princess, Britney Spears and the late music icon, Prince have been suspected of publically ingesting and referencing the opioid-laced lollipop. The death of Prince was said to be the direct result of his opioid dependence, which included fentanyl and fentanyl lollipops. Not only are the lollipops appealing to the youth of America, the media felt exposing dangerous drug use information about pop icons was necessary too. Just like any other addiction, this intimidating and deadly substance can grab a hold of anyone, anywhere.
Overdoses Out of Control
Of the estimated 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, the most significant increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl with over 20,000 overdose deaths. According to the New York Times, estimated deaths due to drug overdose went up 19% from 2015 to 2016. This unfavorable sweep of death and destruction by from opioid-induced drug addiction doesn’t seem like it’s decreasing anytime soon. Adding insult to injury on Wednesday, October 12, 2017, Camden, New Jersey reported fourteen overdoses in four hours as the result of fentanyl-laced heroin.
Fentanyl Epidemic Eruption
Unfortunately, acute tragedies involving several opioid-related overdoses are reported nationwide every day. West Virginia who leads the country’s overdose rates by three times the national average, in 2016 communicated 27 heroin-induced overdoses in only 4 hours. Early this year West Virginia Public Broadcasting cited a 46 percent increase in overdose deaths in the state in just four years. They claim direct relation to the rise of fentanyl and the choice mixture among drug traffickers to increase potency levels of heroin.
Massachusetts has recently put most of its energy and effort in combating this drug over any other drug, including heroin. The Boston Globe this month ran a story in which they interviewed Michael J. Ferguson, a special agent who oversees the New England field division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In the article, they quoted Fergenson pleading, “Fentanyl is manufactured death, and it’s like no other epidemic that I’ve come across in my 27 years at DEA.” Mr. Fergenson and the rest of the state of Massachusetts saw that among the 1,899 death by opioid overdose in 2016, 69 percent of them tested positive for fentanyl. States all over the country are starting to feel the crippling power that fentanyl has over its citizens. The fentanyl epidemic is starting to explode nationwide. These are just some of this week’s major headlines involving fentanyl [10.8.17-10.15.17]
MARYLAND: Police seize over 6000 fentanyl pills while serving warrant in Baltimore
NEBRASKA: Investigators capture more than 30 pounds of fentanyl
NEW JERSEY: Governor Christie passes legislation to combat fentanyl-laced heroin
COLORADO: Registered nurse arrested for stealing fentanyl intended for patients
VIRGINIA: Fentanyl Hazmat exercise held in Virginia Beach
PENNSYLVANIA: Drug rehab founder accused of providing fentanyl to addict patients
FLORIDA: Authorities find 11-year child dead from fentanyl exposure during a raid
What can we do to stop this?
As of today, there is really no answer for why, when or how this epidemic is going to end. It seems that drugs will always be a problem in this country and throughout the world regardless of the efforts made by police, armed forces, government, citizens, etc. of any country. At Serenity Springs Recovery Center, we do not worry about the numbers or politics involved, even though these are hot topics in America. We are here to offer a solution for addiction and change the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics. These changes come from the knowledge and spiritual principles that we instill into their daily lives. This can and will happen for all that thoroughly work our program of recovery.
- Vicki Batts. “Drug Overdose Is Now Leading Cause of…” CDC News. 13 Sept. 2017. Web.
- “Fentanyl.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2017. Web.
- Milo, Paul. “14 Overdoses in 4 Hours Linked to Fentanyl-laced Heroin.” NJ.com. NJ.com, 12 Oct. 2017. Web.