The fentanyl crisis has taken over many parts of the country, with Southern California near the top of the list. Of course, location doesn’t matter. What matters is that this crisis is claiming entirely too many lives every year.
There’s a lot to know about the Southern California fentanyl crisis, but it’s important to start with the basics. Here’s what you need to know.
What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is used medically to treat severe pain, such as pain related to cancer. It is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. That alone shows you just how dangerous it can be to experiment with fentanyl.
Furthermore, fentanyl is commonly used illegally in combination with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, to increase their euphoric effects. The combination of fentanyl with other drugs is particularly dangerous, as it increases the risk of overdose and death.
How many people overdose on fentanyl every year?
While the statistics vary depending on the source, here’s something that will open your eyes: a recent study shows that fentanyl was responsible for roughly 20 percent of deaths among 15- to 24-year-old Californians in 2021.
Fentanyl has become a major public health concern due to its high potential for abuse and overdose. The number of deaths related to fentanyl overdose has been increasing rapidly in recent years, particularly in North America.
In 2017, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were involved in 31% of opioid overdose deaths in the United States. By 2019, that number had risen to 46%. In 2020, the CDC reported that there were over 31,000 deaths related to synthetic opioids, the majority of which were attributed to fentanyl.
With these numbers continuing to rise, there’s no time to waste.
What’s being done to curb the crisis?
It doesn’t matter if it’s Southern California or another part of the country, one of the biggest social issues of today is that lawmakers aren’t doing enough to curb the fentanyl crisis. And for that reason, it continues to ravage communities from one side of the United States to the next.
For example, California lawmakers recently rejected a proposal to permit convicted drug dealers to be charged with manslaughter or murder for selling fatal doses of fentanyl or other narcotics. At the same time, they turned down a bill that would have increased jail time for individuals selling two grams or more of fentanyl.
What are the signs of fentanyl abuse?
If you suspect that a loved one is abusing fentanyl, you must take immediate action. Here are some of the most common signs of abuse or addiction:
- Drowsiness or sedation: Fentanyl can cause drowsiness, sleepiness, and confusion, which can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities.
- Nausea and vomiting: Fentanyl can cause stomach upset and can lead to nausea and vomiting.
- Constricted pupils: Fentanyl can cause the pupils to become small, or “pinpoint,” which is a sign of opioid use.
- Slow breathing: Fentanyl can slow down breathing, which can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can cause confusion, dizziness, and even unconsciousness.
- Slurred speech: Fentanyl can cause slurred speech, which is a sign of poor coordination and impaired motor skills.
- Depression and anxiety: Fentanyl can cause depression and anxiety, which can affect a person’s mood and behavior.
These signs are not always associated with fentanyl abuse, but they should definitely raise a red flag. Speak with your loved one about your concerns, ask questions, and offer to get them the help they need.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The fentanyl crisis in Southern California remains an epidemic that affects tens of thousands of people every year. What matters most is that those who are in trouble get the help they need.
Fentanyl abuse is serious, and as of now, it doesn’t appear that the crisis will level off any time in the near future. If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl abuse, it’s critical to take immediate action. For instance, a stay in an Orange County detox facility may be all that’s needed to get your life back on track.