In recent years, there's been a dangerous trend in using drugs. Some of them now have a powerful and harmful substance called fentanyl. Fentanyl is much stronger than heroin and morphine. This is a big problem because it is causing more overdoses and deaths.
The Fentanyl Factor
Fentanyl is a strong man-made painkiller used by doctors for severe pain after surgery or for long-lasting pain issues. But because it's so strong and easy to make, illegal drug makers use it too. They mix it with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and fake prescription pills. People using these drugs don't know fentanyl is in there. Drug makers do this to make their products seem stronger, without using as much of the main drug.
The Scope of the Issue
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes it is a serious problem. Fentanyl caused 80,411 deaths from opioid overdoses in the U.S. in 2021. Just a little bit of it can be deadly.
Fentanyl in drugs is risky because it's unpredictable. People who take a drug might not know if it has fentanyl, and that puts them at risk of overdosing. Even if someone is used to taking drugs, fentanyl is so strong that they might make a mistake in how much they take. Such a mistake could be deadly.
Impacts on Communities and Families
Fentanyl doesn't just hurt the people using it; it also makes things tough for hospitals, police, and other services. When there are overdoses, it puts a lot of pressure on emergency services and hospitals. This affects whole communities and families.
Likewise, if someone has an overdose from fentanyl, it can be hard for their family in various ways. For example, the family may have to to pay funeral expenses and other associated costs. This can create a financial burden for the family, adding stress during an already challenging time, and families may need to navigate legal issues related to the circumstances of the overdose.
Addressing the Crisis
Public Awareness: It's important to make sure people know how dangerous drugs with fentanyl can be.
Naloxone: Naloxone is a medicine that can stop opioid overdoses. Giving out naloxone kits to people who might be in danger or their families can help save lives.
Harm Reduction: Harm reduction organizations give naloxone and clean supplies to reduce harm to people who use drugs. They also help connect people to treatment, if people want it.
Drug Testing Kits: Drug testing kits that detect the presence of fentanyl empower users to make more informed decisions about the substances they consume.
The Texas House of Representatives approved legalization of fentanyl testing strips. If the bill is signed into law, we’ll update this page with information on where test kits can be obtained.
Treatment and Rehabilitation: Making sure people have easy access to treatment and rehab is important for those dealing with substance use problems. Giving them ways to recover and get support can help them break free from the cycle of addiction.
The State of Texas offers substance use services. Services for substance use want people to think about getting better. They can educate about harm prevention, step in if there's an issue, and help with treatment. Services include:
- Withdrawal management services
- Intensive and supportive residential treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Medication assisted treatment
- Co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders treatment services
- Specialized female treatment services for pregnant women and women with dependent children.
Find state-funded substance use programs.
The widespread use of drugs with fentanyl is a big issue that needs quick attention. The risks of this dangerous mix mean we have to work together to make people aware, share ways to be safer, and help those dealing with addiction.
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