The opioid epidemic has plagued the nation for several years now with the more recent spikes in overdose deaths coming from stronger opioids like fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is used to treat severe pain, but it can also be used. Because it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, it is extremely dangerous if misused and has a high propensity for overdose.1 What also makes fentanyl so dangerous is that it is often laced with other drugs without the user’s knowledge. Those who do use fentanyl and become addicted to this drug, typically need a medical detox and formal treatment to safely stop. This powerful drug has been a growing concern in the opioid epidemic in the United States with the number of overdoses from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids skyrocketing within the past ten years. From 2013 to 2018 alone, the number of deaths from these drugs per 100,000 people went from about 1 to 10.2
Fentanyl Use in Ohio
Of course, some places in the United States have been more heavily impacted than others. Fentanyl use in Ohio, for example, has increased drastically in the last ten years. In 2013, fentanyl overdoses in Ohio totaled less than 500 a year and were behind overdoses from both prescription opioids and heroin. Just two years later, Ohio fentanyl overdoses surpassed both of these drugs until peaking at an alarming 3,237 overdose deaths in 2017. In comparison, both overdose death from prescription opioids and heroin were around 1,000.3 Although the number of overdoses from this drug did drop in 2018, fentanyl in Ohio continues to be a major problem. It was involved in an alarming 76% of overdose deaths in 2019. This is a dramatic rise from the mere 20% of fentanyl-related overdoses in 2014.4 Unfortunately with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio’s opioid epidemic shows no signs of slowing down either. According to the Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE), during a three-month period in 2020, more Ohio residents died from an opioid overdose than at any other period in the last ten years.5 Many fear that fentanyl in Ohio is one of main factors leading to these deaths. Julie Teater, the Medical Director of Addiction Medicine at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center explains, “In many cases now, heroin for example is very little heroin and a very large percentage fentanyl. It’s also in our non-opioid drug supply. People using those stimulants don’t have an opioid tolerance, so even a small amount of fentanyl can cause an overdose.”5 As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic linger, Ohio’s fentanyl problems may continue. At Vertava Health Ohio, we want to help. We offer opioid programs like fentanyl addiction treatment in Ohio for people struggling to stop using these drugs. If you or someone you care about needs help, don’t wait. Fentanyl use is too dangerous to ignore.