fentanyl poisoning’s rise to national issue explained by a Johns Hopkins pain specialist

Mother of a fentanyl victim Erin Rachwal speaks with Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow about the county’s decision to label the lethal opioid a “health catastrophe.”

NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! As the country struggles with a drug crisis unlike any other, news of horrifying fentanyl-related deaths makes headlines every day around the country. Where did we come from?

According to Dr. Paul Christo, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and creator of the podcast “Aches and Gains,” doctors have been utilizing opioids to treat chronic pain more frequently since the 1990s, which has led to an increase in opioid use among those who do not require it.

As a pain expert, we frequently see patients who are on opioids and developing addiction, he added. “As part of it, we treat patients who have the disease of addiction and recommend them to experts in the field of addiction medicine, for instance, by attempting to manage their pain. The pain epidemic is heavily present in what we currently witness in terms of opiate overdose. You know, nearly a third of the population in the United States suffers from an epidemic of chronic pain.”

A synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more strong than morphine is called fentanyl. Though some illegal drug producers and cartels have pressed fentanyl into tablets shaped like prescription painkillers, it is dangerous in little amounts and is more usually found in recreational narcotics.

A record 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and poisonings last year, driven by synthetic opioid  or fentanyl  poisonings, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a record 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses and poisonings last year, with synthetic opioid or fentanyl poisonings being the primary cause.

Dr. Paul Christo, an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and host of the “Aches and Gains” podcast, told Fox News Digital that it’s crucial for the general public to be aware of the risks of using personal synthetic fentanyl, particularly families, friends, parents, and particularly young adults between the ages of 13 and 25. “We’re not actually referring about the fentanyl that is produced by pharmaceutical companies and used to treat patients with chronic pain. That contrast, in my opinion, is significant.”

He said that street-purchased illegal fentanyl is “lethal because it is so strong.” The normal person “has to ingest very little of it for it to cause lung issues and finally death” According to Christo, fentanyl can be found in a variety of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and cannabis. The danger posed by fentanyl in those pharmaceuticals can be reduced with the aid of fentanyl test strips. Additionally, persons who consume too much fentanyl can be saved by having Narcan, a medication used to treat opiate overdoses, on hand.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses and poisonings last year, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl being a major contributing factor (CDC). According to a CDC analysis of data that Families Against Fentanyl published in December 2021, illicit fentanyl poisoning was the No. 1 cause of mortality for American individuals between the ages of 18 and 45 in 2017.

Fentanyl is deadly in small doses and is more frequently found in recreational drugs, though some illicit drug manufacturers and cartels have pressed fentanyl into pills made to look like prescription painkillers.

Although some illegal drug producers and cartels have squeezed fentanyl into tablets that resemble prescription medicines, it is dangerous in little amounts and is more usually found in recreational narcotics. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

According to a study released in February by The StanfordLancet Commission on the North American Opioid Issue, there would likely be 1.2 million opioid overdose deaths in the US over the next ten years, with the Black population suffering the most from the crisis.

Drug seizures at the southern border have increased dramatically in recent years. 10,586 pounds of the substance were confiscated by Customs and Border Protection in FY 2021. This is more than the 2,633 pounds and the 4,558 pounds that were taken in the previous fiscal years.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths is rising, even though it’s still unclear how much of the drug is coming into the country since that figure just includes drug seizures. Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning about a “nationwide rise” in overdoses connected to fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has a potency that is 50–100 times greater than morphine. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

“It appears that Mexico is the source of much of the fentanyl being smuggled across the United States. It may be produced at a low cost and is exceedingly deadly when taken in small doses, which can quickly result in death. Therefore, I believe that we are beginning to mobilize a response regarding what we can do to lessen the effectiveness, “The spread of the opioid within the United States can be stopped, according to Christo, who added that increased border inspections of drugs entering the country to check for the presence of fentanyl can help.

People who are addicted ought to get help. According to Christo, several communities offer “public health services relating to misuse and substance use” that are free for those who qualify. For those looking for treatment options in their locations, the websites of the American Psychological Association and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) both offer free resources.

Call the national helpline of SAMHSA at 1-800-662-HELP if you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse and addiction (4357).
Adam Shaw from Fox News contributed to this story.
Digital reporter Audrey Conklin works for Fox Business and Fox News. Send tips to @audpants on Twitter or Audrey.conklin@fox.com by email.