A powerful synthetic drug is causing an epidemic of hundreds of overdose deaths in America – produced in illicit labs and often sold in place of heroin.
This week, 10 drug users died from overdoses in 12 days in the Sacramento area – many due to unknowingly taking tablets containing fentanyl.
Jerome Butler died after taking what he thought was an opiate painkiller.
His mother, Natasha, said, ‘It shut down his organs. It shut down his kidneys. It shut down his liver. His brain was swollen. The doctor said he said there was nothing he could do for him. From one pill.’
The illicitly manufactured Fentanyl is between 20 and 100 times stronger than heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The drug – prescribed to cancer patients for severe pain – is highly potent, and can cause fatal overdoses even in hardened drug users.
Several American states have reported a surge in deaths caused by fentanyl – with two-thirds of the 420 overdose deaths in New Hampshire thought to be caused by the drug.
The vast majority of IMF is being mixed with heroin to increase its potency and sold as heroin. State level and national data indicate that persons dying from fentanyl are predominately heroin users and are being exposed to fentanyl by its presence in heroin that is cut with fentanyl—most often without the heroin user being aware.’
Drug group FRANK advises, ‘As some synthetic opioids are more potent than natural opioids they can be effective at very small doses, which can make it easier to take too much
‘There is a greater risk of overdose and death if you mix synthetic opioids with other drugs that suppress breathing such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (like diazepam or Valium), and/or other opiate drugs (like heroin).