Drug of choice could end up a deadly mix

Do you depend on a drug of your choice? Do you know what’s in your drug of choice? Do you think you can trust your dealer to be concerned about you – to care about you beyond your fistful of dollars?

Richard Taite writes at psychologytoday.com, “Many drug cartels dilute their products with nearly indistinguishable substances, for example, mixing powdered milk into a batch of heroin to increase the overall quantity of the drug, sell more, and make more money.”

Where is it coming from? The DEA notes that there are two primary places: Mexico and Colombia.

Addiction is not something a person plans to do. How many people have or have suffered in the past with severe pain from an injury? They didn’t plan on becoming addicted to their prescription pain medication. For whatever reason, though, that’s where they find themselves. When they can no longer get the prescription medication, they look for something that will match what they felt with the prescription. Heroin is cheaper and easier to get.

When their bodies become used to that they look for something stronger.  The trilogy is heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl.

Fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine, is used to manage severe pain or pain after surgery. It is dangerous because high doses of opioids like fentanyl can stop a person’s breathing completely.

But Taite is concerned about Carfentanyl. He cites a Cleveland incident last August when a medical examiner discovered that the drug was involved in Ohio’s high rate of fatal opioid overdoses. It has no taste or odor so there is no way for the buyer to know what they are getting.

Carfentanyl is an analog of the synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl. Analog means that carfentanyl and fentanyl structures resemble one another but have different effects. Designed to sedate large animals like elephants, Carfentanyl is 10,000 more potent than morphine and 100 times more than Fentanyl. Just one drop of Carfentanyl on human skin is enough to be lethal, according to Taite.

Taite writes that its use in heroin is not widespread … yet. But it is a problem in Ohio. Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati. Overdose deaths are being linked to Carfentanyl. Detroit, Battle Creek, even in Canada, Europe, Russia, this substance is causing a lot of problems. Stateside, EMS providers are giving four to seven doses of naloxone to reverse the overdose. Sometimes it doesn’t work.

In Columbiana County, the Health Department has made Narcan kits available to local EMS and law enforcement agencies in response to the presence of fentanyl and carfentanyl in heroin found locally.

“The addition of carfentanyl to heroin has exacerbated the entire opioid epidemic throughout the area,” said Eloise Traina, executive director of Family Recovery Center. “Overdoses and deaths related to the infestation of carfentanyl continues to be of concern to all of us in the field. Countering requires a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement, education as treatment, according to DEA administrator Chuck Rosenburg. The statistics are alarming.”

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reported last August that a new compound in new preclinical research funded by the agency, “acts on opioid and non-opioid brain receptors to ease pain without harmful side effects.”

“This research could provide relief for the approximately 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, while avoiding the serious health consequences of opioid misuse.”

You can read more about this new research by visiting online, https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2016/08/pain-relief-without-risk-addiction-or-overdose.

A final note this week, Salem Public Library will host Family Forum from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Quaker Room. Family Recovery Center staff will present the program including FRC’s medical director, Karl Getzinger, MD, Cheryle Herr and Jessica O’Dea who will discuss local trends, signs and symptoms of drug use, treatment options, and what you can do to support a loved one in successful recovery. Registration is required online at salemlib.oh.us or by phone, 330-332-0042.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org.

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