First Cocaine, then Heroin, now Fentanyl: All Drugs that Kill

Writer’s note: Is the value of your life worth more than the weight of a drop of rain falling from the sky? Do you value your life more than a grain of sand? Well, for anyone who is hooked or addicted to heroin/fentanyl, their life is certainly not a day at the beach. My mom taught me many years ago that education is the key. The more we know, the more we can help. We need to educate ourselves. Hopefully this story will give the reader a little better understanding about the deadly drug fentanyl. Fentanyl is killing fathers, mothers, children, neighbors, and loved ones. It has no conscience and it kills at will.

 

January 4, 2019

 

by Doug Robinson

As the New Year begins, local first responders face an increase in drug overdoses. They continue to battle an epidemic that seems to have no end as new drugs hit the streets. The latest opioid foe is fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is a powerful and addictive opioid drug that is used to treat severe pain or pain after surgery, especially in people who have taken painkillers for long-lasting or chronic pain and have developed a tolerance to opioid medications. Fentanyl is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine,” according to deserthopetreatment.com.

To give readers a better perspective on the power of fentanyl, consider that “a quarter milligram can be fatal,” reported CNN. The weight of a grain of sand is 18 times heavier than a quarter milligram, stated www.bluebulbprojects.com.

“During the month of November, the town of Hudson experienced nine overdoses, of which three were fatal,” commented Detective Sgt. Thomas Scotti, Hudson Police. “During the year, we see about 50 overdoses, which works out to be about four per month. So, what is going on now is really outside the norm.”

Since January 2018, Hudson has experienced 10 overdose deaths and 70 overdoses. At this time last year, the town had experienced 55 overdoses and seven deaths. Three years ago, the total number of overdoses was 19.

“We are receiving two to three calls a week now, to help someone who has overdosed here in Hudson,” said Hudson Fire Department Paramedic Benjamin Crane.

In Hudson last year, 57 percent of those who overdosed were men, and 43 percent were women. Males 36 years and older represented 26 percent and women 18 to 25 years represented 18 percent of those who overdosed.

As to why this epidemic seems to have no end, Detective Sgt. Scotti stated, “There are many reasons and possible scenarios. One reason includes the possibility of those who sought treatment, and then have a relapse. Others are those who have completed their treatment, are still in physical pain. They need to continue the drugs to survive their pain management.

“When these individuals resume the taking of the drugs, they are unaware that the drug they are purchasing today, no way resembles the drug they took months or a year ago. When they resume their normal amount, that dosage turns out to be fatal.”

“Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which means it is manmade in laboratories,” according to deserthopetreatment.com. “It is produced through a number of chemical reactions that require specialized skills and access to restricted chemicals.

“Fentanyl has high risk for addiction and dependence. Fentanyl can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol. The drug is manufactured in pharmaceutical laboratories and in illegal labs.”

“China (along with Mexico and Canada) is a major supplier of fentanyl to the United States, and though it has begun to regulate fentanyl and its derivatives, this has not been easy due to the ability of chemists to alter the formula for the drug” states www.deserthopetreatment.com.

The illegal labs are adding different products to this formula to create the drug carfentanil, an elephant veterinary tranquillizer drug in an effort to create a more potent drug.

Fentanyl is cheap and easy to produce, thus often found as an adulterant (foreign substance) which is added into other illegal drugs. About 500,000 counterfeit pills can be manufactured from a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fentanyl” writes www.deserthopetreatment.com.

Drug dealers are not in the business of killing their customers. However, they are in the business to maximize their profits. In order to increase their profits, dealers increase their yield by adding other products to the drug’s components to their drug mixture. There is no end to what is being mixed together and there are no regulations.

Fentanyl is now being mixed into heroin or cocaine, with the addition of other products such as bleach, gas, and even Drāno. Those who are purchasing this drug have no idea as to how or what is in their next fix.

“People who struggle with heroin addiction now consume fentanyl in their heroin and they have no idea as to how much fentanyl,” according to www.drugabuse.gov/drug.

Hudson police comment that the current spike in heroin usage has a lot to do with not only the inexpensive cost of the drug, but also due to its availability. “The average cost of a single dose (0.1 g) of heroin purchased on the street has been reported as approximately $15–$20 in the U.S. state of Ohio. The heroin price per gram depends upon its purity and the availability of the drug in the area at that given time. Someone with a “hard-core” heroin habit may pay $150–$200 per day in order to support his or her habit” reports www.heroin.net.

The hidden costs of heroin contributing to medical problems, medical care, crime costs, legal costs, and personal costs, according to heroin.net, are $27 billion.

Heroin.net also stated, “One of the biggest problems with heroin is that it is relatively easy to obtain and appears less expensive than other dangerous, addictive drugs. Unlike cocaine, for example, the street cost of heroin appeals to many individuals who want to maintain their addiction without destroying their personal finances.”

Locally, police and fire departments, and the health care system have become burdened by those who have ingested these addictive drugs. Families are losing fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and loved ones due to this epidemic.

Some of the signs of heroin abuse/misuse and/or addiction include, mood swings and erratic behavior, difficulties concentrating, changes in eating and sleeping habits, decline in personal hygiene, social isolation that may be self-imposed, lack of desire to participate in things or activities that may have previously been important to the person, drop in schoolwork or shirking work and familial responsibilities.

Symptoms of an oncoming overdose or coma include, “pinpoint pupils, bluish coloration of the skin, stupor, cold or clammy skin, slow or irregular heartbeat or breathing,” states Deserthopeteatment.com.

And emergency responders are at risk too. “Emergency workers may come into contact with fentanyl through inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, and needle sticks. These exposures can potentially be fatal” states deserthopetreatment.com. Again, it takes only .25 mg of “fentanyl sand” to kill the innocent who give of their lives helping others.

Narcan is a drug that is now sold over the counter at various pharmacies. It has proven to be a viable and approved method of medical treatment (an injection) for those who overdose. Narcan has been administered 38 times by HFD personnel in 2018 alone.

And now that Narcan is available over the counter, those who take these drugs do so with the false knowledge that should they overdose, that shot of Narcan they receive from a loved one or first responder will save them. This is false. Narcan only stops the affects of the overdose for a short period of time, before a relapse occurs. Usually, these relapses are more intense and more dangerous. Families have been reported to “stock up” and have Narcan in every room of their home, should the need arise to administer the Narcan to a loved one.

That shot of Narcan administered in the field is a temporary, short-term fix. Those who do overdose will need to receive additional Narcan, usually administered from an IV drip at the hospital for their continued well being and health needs. And then, should the patient wish to continue their health care properly, they will need counseling and therapy.

Benjamin Crane, Hudson Fire Department Paramedic, said that “the fire departments of Manchester and Nashua New Hampshire have initiated the Safe Station Program, in their attempt to fight and help those who suffer from the mental illness of addiction.”

Nashuanh.gov says, “If you are looking for help, there is a Gateway to Recovery in Nashua. Safe Stations are open 24/7 to those who are seeking treatment and recovery. At Safe Stations a trained firefighter will be able to connect you to help.”

Continuing, the town website says, “Each Nashua, NH Fire Station will be a designated safe environment for the individuals seeking assistance looking for treatment to start their path to recovery. At any time of day or night a person seeking help with substance misuse can go to any NFD Station and speak to the firefighters on duty. The firefighters will arrange for or provide a medical assessment and if there is cause for concern that there is something else medically wrong with the patient, transportation to an appropriate level medical facility will be arranged for and provided by Nashua’s contracted 911 services AMR.”

More than 118 Hudson residents have crossed the bridge to Nashua and have sought help at a Safe Station. Open 365 days, 24 hours a day, the Safe Station has seen a 6 percent increase of those seeking help over last year. Records show that three to four people in need walk voluntarily into one of the Safe Stations daily for help. In 2017, the Safe Station program helped 1,031 people. In 2018, that number grew to over 1,300 needy people.

Crane further said, “While we do see repeat patients, this drug is everywhere and can be seen in all age groups, all income groups, and all areas of Hudson.   Those who are repeat patients tell us that they want help, want to be clean, yet, revert back to drugs after a couple of months clean. The Safe Station program is a great program designed to help those in their time of need find the help that they need.”

For those needing help, or those seeking help for a loved one, call the heroin hotline, 1-877-726-3129.