Opioid Epidemic: Fentanyl overdoses, what overdoses look like, narcan, and where to go from here
Updated: Apr 26
For the first time ever, the US has seen 100,000 deaths from overdoses in the last 12 months ending in April 2021.
In 2020, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States was 31% higher than the rate in 2019. The rise in overdoses is largely due to increases in methamphetamine and fentanyl-related deaths.
In Los Angeles, the number are much worse. Fentanyl related deaths increased by 136% during the first ten months of the pandemic.
Fentanyl is a synthetic substance that has become very common in illegal drug distribution. It is significantly cheaper than using benzodiazepines that illegal drug manufacturers previously used in their products. Fentanyl was originally developed as a cancer treatment (something more powerful than morphine and a fast metabolism in the body). 100 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl was a very successful breakthrough when used with the proper medical dosing and supervision.
However, it was not initially designed to be used in any other form. This is where the issues of dosage are happening in illegal drug distribution. The lethal dosage of fentanyl is 2mg (about the size of a sesame seed) — this dosage is easily surpassed without knowledge when the consumer is unaware that their drug is manufactured with fentanyl.
Overdosing from fentanyl has become more commonplace in recent years because of this. Whether a person is a frequent drug user or recreationally participating in drugs at a party, the chance of overdosing from common drugs laced with fentanyl (unknowingly to the consumer) is high.
Fentanyl is now being added to many recreational drugs as well as pressed pills that are being illegally manufactured out of the country and sold in the US illegally. An example of this would be illegally manufactured Xanax pills that are sold in the black market in the US. Fentanyl has also been found in cocaine, ketamine, MDMA and many more recreational drugs.
Narcan (nalaxone) is a prescription opioid antagonist that can be used to save someone's life who is overdosing from an opioid. Knowing how to use it, when to use it and where to get it is essential. Even if you have never used a drug in your life, the chances that you know someone who is using is very high.
In this video, I talk to Theo Krzywicki, co-founder of End Overdose, about these issues. Theo's company has made huge strides in attacking the Opioid Epidemic, and he walks us through identifying and responding to overdoses.
End Overdose provides FREE narcan, all you need to do is go to their website and order it. They also sell fentanyl test strips to test recreational drugs for fentanyl before using to reduce the risk of an overdose from fentanyl.
While you and your loved ones may not all be drug users, knowing how to respond to a drug overdose is an extremely important skill that EVERYONE should be aware of. Access to information and treatment options has the power to save lives.
What can we do:
Donate to End Overdose to help the distribute free Narcan to prevent further deaths from opioid overdoses.
Share this interview with friends and family so we can educate more people on how to prevent deaths from opioid overdoses.
Be kind- We never know what someone is going through internally. A smile, hug or kind word can go further than we could ever imagine.