FENTANYL MAKES FOR GRIM STATISTICS AS WE CLOSE OUT 2016
Prince was one of thousands of people who died last year after overdosing on fentanyl. The number of deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses is rising almost exponentially. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, is said to be from 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and so powerful that heroin addicts report they can no longer get high off heroin after using fentanyl. Developed over 50 years ago as a “safe alternative” to morphine, its purpose was to treat severe pain. And it is still prescribed, although strictly controlled, to treat cancer pain and as an anesthetic during surgery.
The New York Times recently reported that fentanyl fatalities are surpassing heroin fatalities in much of the country and as part of a national trend that is expected to continue. Drug overdose fatalities are increasing, in no small part due to the rise of fentanyl abuse. For the first time in New York City’s history, drug overdoses exceed 1,000 people in 2016 and half of those were a result of fentanyl. One addiction counselor aptly described fentanyl as “the serial killer of drugs.”
I have previously discussed this epidemic but it just keeps getting worse with ominous signs for 2017. Only a few years ago, fentanyl was not even on law enforcement’s radar screen. What happened? The black market discovered that fentanyl is cheap, easy to make and provides a high much more powerful high than heroin. The Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing it, it is being smuggled from China, and it is being cooked up in labs in the U.S. Some users are not even aware that they are taking fentanyl, believing it to be a black market prescription drug, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, that they have bought. Others are heroin users who buy heroin that has been laced with fentanyl . And then, there are those who have become addicted to fentanyl and find nothing else can give them the high they seek. For those who continue to take this drug, their time here on earth may be limited. As the previously mentioned addiction counselor put it: “It’s not something you can use for any kind of duration and survive.”
Perhaps the best thing that can happen to a fentanyl user is to get arrested; then there is a good chance that the addict is going to get into treatment. Defense attorneys, the courts, and even the district attorneys would prefer to see a fentanyl addict get help rather than punish him or her with straight incarceration. With a caring defense attorney as an advocate, a person arrested for the simply heartbreaking reason that he or she is addicted to a killer drug because the pain of life is just too much, may find a way out through court-ordered treatment. Unfortunately treatment doesn’t always work if the addict doesn’t want to play.
Criminal defense attorney William Weinberg is available to consult with you regarding any criminal matter. You can reach him at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.