Deathly fentanyl overdoses have increased in Louisville. It was believed that heroin caused recent drug-related deaths, but a suspected drug dealer notified directives that heroin was being mixed with fentanyl, a deadly and powerful drug.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used for severe pain. However, given the fact that it is cheaper and up to 50 times more potent than heroin, manufacturers are mixing their drug with fentanyl. Apparently, drug users and police officers didn’t know anything about it. Now, fentanyl is being blamed for causing nearly 43 percent of Jefferson county’s 325 fatal overdoses last year, meaning that more people died due to drug abuse than because of homicides.
“It’s troubling,” the police sergeant said. “We’re talking to people now who were actually trying to find the fentanyl. We’re told the high is quicker and slightly longer.”
Drugs take more lives than homicides
According to the police officers, they received a call from a suspected drug dealer from South Louisville warning them that the drug he had been selling was being mixed with fentanyl. This alerted the officers given the deathly consequences of consuming it without professional supervision. A person can die from breathing in or having their skin exposed to a very small amount of fentanyl powder.
Therefore, there is no coincidence that Louisville reported a spike in drug-related deaths. Last year, there were reported 325 fatal drug overdoses which take more lives than homicides. It is believed that fentanyl-related death makes up more than 40 percent of these deaths, increasing from 26 to 139 deaths between 2015 and 2016, according to Jefferson County coroner’s data. As well, deaths related to all drugs have an important 48 percent increase, going from 220 to 325 in the same period.
Fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs
Fentanyl is mainly used as a painkiller for advanced cancer patients and amputees given its potency, which is 50 times as potent as heroin. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a dose as small as two milligrams can be lethal.
The worst thing is that police officers cannot detect it, and dealers sometimes don’t even know that the shipment they bought has it. Police don’t have a good forecast for 2017 on the matter. Jim Scott, resident agent-in-charge of the DEA’s Louisville Division, expects overdoses from fentanyl to rise this year. Fentanyl is cheaper than heroin which is appealing to manufacturers and traffickers, as well, it is appealing to consumers because of its potency. It is often made in China and shipped to Mexico or Canada and then it is taken to the US. As well, it was reported that manufacturers are adding fentanyl to other products such as counterfeit prescription pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine
“Sometimes someone wants to experiment and it only takes one pill to die. If it’s fentanyl, it’s Russian Roulette,” said Dr. Robert Chouch, medical director for emergency services at the Norton Audubon Hospital.
More than two dozen people have already died from an overdose in 2015 in Jefferson County. Out of eight toxicology reports, seven stated that the person had consumed fentanyl.