Rising Instances of Fentanyl Poisoning Deaths Spark Concern Among US Health Experts!

The rising number of fentanyl-related deaths,
The rising number of fentanyl-related deaths. Credit | Shutterstock

United States: The recent death of a 19-year-old due to a fentanyl overdose has alarmed healthcare professionals, indicating a troubling trend in the United States. The tragic incident in North Carolina has drawn global attention to the escalating cases of fentanyl overdoses.

How Fentanyl is Gaining Prominence?

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Fentanyl’s prevalence is increasing as drug dealers incorporate it into various substances, ranging from heroin to counterfeit prescription drugs. Even a tiny amount of this potent opioid—just a few grains, approximately 2 milligrams—can be lethal. In 2021, fentanyl was implicated in the majority of fatal drug overdoses, constituting 83 percent of all deaths in the state, according to records from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Michelle, who lost her son to a drug overdose, is now dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of fentanyl. She emphasized, “If this could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.”

Access to Naloxone, the Opioid Antidote

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The opioid crisis in North Carolina has worsened due to the deadly nature of these drugs. Barbara Walsh from the Fentanyl Victims Network of NC is leading efforts to ensure that schools in North Carolina have naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses, readily available on campus, with support from Lexington.

Coordinated Efforts to Combat Fentanyl

The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force is also tackling the issue of fentanyl-related deaths among teenagers and young children who may be exposed to the drug through discarded illegal substances. Sandra Bishop-Freeman, the state’s chief toxicologist, expressed shock at the deaths of infants and toddlers, which prompted prevention efforts.

Other Victim Cases

An investigation into 22 cases of children’s deaths in 2021 revealed that fentanyl was the sole drug responsible for 15 of the fatalities. Additionally, fentanyl was implicated in a significant number of deaths where multiple substances were involved.

Availability of Counterfeit Pills

The proliferation of fake pills containing fentanyl is a growing concern, particularly among older children. In 2022, authorities seized 77,000 fake pills in North Carolina alone, with approximately 80 percent containing fentanyl. The US Drug Enforcement Administration found that fake pills failing their tests often contained lethal doses of fentanyl.

Potential Solutions

According to Walsh, Narcan (naloxone), an opioid reversal medication, should be readily available in every school, akin to epinephrine pens for allergic reactions or automated external defibrillators for cardiac emergencies.