Fifty times stronger than heroin and a hundred times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is relatively cheap to produce illicitly and efficient to transport. It is often mixed with heroin, so that users are unaware they are inhaling or injecting the dangerous drug.
Initially, some objected to making naloxone widely available, arguing that it would simply enable more drug addicts to continue shooting up. Now that more Americans are dying of heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses than from homicides — roughly 28,000 people in 2014 — that argument rarely comes up.
At the height of her addiction to heroin, Tracey Helton Mitchell lived in an alley and sold her body. Now she works as an addiction specialist helping others. Her new memoir is The Big Fix.
The sponsors want to make sure patients aren’t going from doctor to doctor seeking pills.
Addicts who quit drugs under an abstinence-based program are at a high risk of fatally overdosing if they relapse. Within days, the abstinent body’s tolerance for opioids plummets and even a small dose of the drugs can shut down the lungs.
People still think that abuse of opioid painkillers is something that criminals do, a study of news media coverage finds. Options like expanded access to treatment are rarely mentioned.