Drug use and abuse has taken a new turn, leading users of opiates and heroin down a path that most often leads to death.
Across the United States, drugs are being mixed with the common, yet dangerous, drug Fentanyl. According to Courtney Boyette, community relations specialist with Eastpointe MCO, Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine, falls under the umbrella of opioid, which includes drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine.
“These substances all go hand in hand,” Boyette said. “When you see one, you usually see others reported.”
Fentanyl is often administered through injection or transdermal patches, but is now being made in make-shift laboratories in many homes.
“Fentanyl has been abused through pain patches,” Boyette explained. “People can either wear them on their skin or some chew pieces of them in their mouth.”
The drug can also come in a liquid form, according to Boyette, and diluted in a nasal spray or even mixed with other drugs like heroin and cocaine.
“It is very ease to overdose on, especially when mixed with other substances and is 50-100 times more potent than morphine,” Boyette said. “Fentanyl is more potent than heroin and easily accessible.”
Locally, law enforcement has seen a steady increase in the number of arrests associated or related to opiate production and use.
“We have done our part by being proactive in seeking out the opiate dealers,” Sampson County Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith said. “Community involvement is also key in combating the issue.”
Unfortunately, Smith said opioids are easily available to everyone because most people who use or abuse the drugs have a legal prescription prescribed by a physician.
“It’s important that parents take action and properly secure any legally prescribed medications so that they’re only accessible to those in which they are prescribed to,” Smith said.
According to Ray Clauson with Narconon New Life Retreat, it is imperative for families and friends to help their loved ones seek treatment for addiction. Likewise, Smith says it’s important for parents to be vigilant when it comes to the potential dangers of drugs in the home.
“As with any other drug, crimes related to opiates are no different,” Smith explained. “Users will steal and do what ever it takes to earn their next high. The drug use ruins and breaks down family relationships.”
Both Smith and Clauson say that opiates, like heroin, are a growing problem.
“Fentanyl has made the risks of being a heroin addict even higher than it already was,” Clauson said.
Smith encourages parents to not only educate themselves on the dangers that are available to their children, but to be aware of the signs to look for in those who may be using drugs.
“Parents should take a proactive approach and not a reactive one,” Smith said. “Too many parents think ‘not my child’. Parents need to stay involved, know what you’re children are up to and talk freely with them about the dangers of drug use.”
Fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. Its effects include euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma and death.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.