The synthetic opioid known as fentanyl is said to have caused a spike in overdoses in Lafayette Parish over the last year, with officials stating that the number of deaths from the drug quadrupled in 2016 alone.
The Dangers of Fentanyl
While most people are familiar with the dangerous consequences of abusing other illicit opioids, such as heroin, the signs and dangers of fentanyl abuse have not come into public’s awareness until recently, when this drug claimed the lives of a staggering number of people in communities across the country.
Said to be up to 50 times stronger than heroin, fentanyl produces an intense, but brief, high. Over time, a person who abuses fentanyl will begin to develop a tolerance to the substance. When this occurs, he or she will require more of the drug and in more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect.
The Risk of Accidental Overdose
The dangers of abusing an opioid that is as strong as fentanyl cannot be overstated, but sadly, many have ingested the drug without even being aware of it. This is due to the fact that, recently, heroin has begun to be mixed with substances like fentanyl, and then illegally distributed without any regulation or labeling.
Additionally, fentanyl is also being sold as OxyContin, which is putting users of prescription painkillers at an elevated risk for accidental overdose. According to Sheriff Mark Garber, individuals who take drugs from unknown sources can never be completely sure of what they contain, warning that the people that engage in this risky behavior are “unwittingly getting themselves into an overdose situation.”
The rise in fentanyl use is also due in part to the fact that the drug is easier and cheaper to produce than heroin. This sad reality has incentivized illegal drug manufacturers outside the United States to increase the amount of the substance for sale in communities like Lafayette Parish and across the country.
In order to raise awareness to the rising fentanyl-related death toll seen in Lafayette, officials with the Lafayette Metro Narcotics, Lafayette Sheriff’s Office, and Lafayette Police Department recently held a news conference. The Lafayette Police Department is hard at work in their efforts to halt the influx of fentanyl into the community, stating that “local and state law enforcement officials are working together to identify and arrest suppliers and dealers responsible for putting the drug on the streets.”
While police departments throughout the state of Louisiana are doing all they can to keep drugs like fentanyl out of their communities, they need assistance in curbing the dangerous trend of opioid abuse. Raising public awareness is a key component in helping to curb the type of accidental overdose that is so often caused by fentanyl use.