Caught in the grips of the opioid epidemic unlike one ever seen before, millions of Americans are addicted to substances such as heroin and prescription painkillers. Thousands of those individuals are losing their lives due to overdoses that are both intentional and accidental. And while the opioid epidemic carries on, it comes as no surprise to read what would otherwise be considered shocking headlines in the daily news.
Not even two weeks ago did the Kirkersville Police Chief overdose on opioid substances. Using the drugs that he found in the evidence room at the police station, Police Chief James Hughes, Jr. died after accidentally overdosing on fentanyl. Ohio is widely known as one of the most opioid-ridden states (in fact, it is the number two state for the most opioid overdoses in the country), however hearing that someone who was once enforcing drug laws was not only abusing confiscated drugs, but then overdosed on them, is unsettling to say the least.
The people of Ohio are no strangers to opioid overdoses, as eight people die each day from them throughout the state. Rates of overdoses seem to climb daily, as drugs such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and heroin are flowing freely in the area.
The Rise in Opioid Overdoses in Ohio
Police Chief James Hughes, Jr. is no different than anyone else who is addicted to opioids. The disease of addiction is extremely complex to manage, and getting help is not as easy as many people think. And, even when someone gets help, recovery can be difficult to navigate, too. Unfortunately, those living in Ohio who are addicted to opioids know this all too well.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, there were 3,050 overdose deaths in 2015, followed by an increase of 4,050 in 2016. Fentanyl was involved in 58.2 percent of those overdoses. Comparatively, fentanyl was involved in 3.9 percent of overdose deaths in 2012, 4 percent in 2013, 19.9 percent in 2014, and a whopping 37.9 percent in 2015.
By 2016, carfentanil hit the scene – and hard. Between July and December of 2016 alone, approximately 400 people died in Ohio after abusing this substance. Today, it still remains quite possibly the most powerful opioid-based substance in the state, if not the country.
Fentanyl and Carfentanil: What are They?
The autopsy report conducted on Police Chief James Hughes, Jr. showed that he accidentally overdosed on fentanyl. One might wonder, how can someone “accidentally” overdose on a drug like fentanyl? Or, how can it even be called an overdose when the user knows that abusing drugs can be deadly? This thought process makes perfect sense to someone who is not well versed in the most recent dangers associated with fentanyl and carfentanil.
For starters, fentanyl is a painkiller that is usually prescribed (carefully) to patients who are experiencing extreme pain. Known to produce a euphoric, relaxing high, fentanyl is commonly sought after by those who abuse other opioids, including heroin. This is because fentanyl is 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Consuming more than two milligrams can be deadly. Because this painkiller is synthetic, those who get their hands on it might cut it with other cheaper, less sought-after opioids to help bulk up their supply and deal out to more people, thus turning a larger profit. There is no telling what a dealer might cut his or her fentanyl with, which makes consuming this drug even more dangerous. It is because of this uncertainty that people accidentally overdose on fentanyl, as they use it in a manner consistent with pure fentanyl, not fentanyl mixed with other substances.
Carfentanil is a newer opioid substance, but that does not take away from how utterly powerful it is.
Originally developed in the 1970’s, carfentanil was manufactured as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants. Upon injecting this substance, elephants and other large animals would become immobilized very quickly. This is the reason why carfentanil is often referred to as the “elephant drug”.
To put it in better perspective, carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and an astonishing 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Heroin and fentanyl dealers alike are mixing their stashes with carfentanil, which is extremely dangerous. With the intention to maximize the amount of drugs they have to sell, dealers are providing clients with much more dangerous substances than he or she knows about. This has caused a serious spike in overdose deaths, with people in Ohio overdosing at the drop of a hat.
The Lesson to be Learned from the Police Chief’s Death
People die each and every day from opioid overdoses, however when specific people in a position of power or fame pass due to overdose, the country pays more attention. Therein lies an opportunity to gain more information about the disease of addiction, as well as take some time to respectfully learn lessons from those who are no longer with us.
Police Chief James Hughes, Jr., as stated before, is no different than any other drug addict. This is because the disease of addiction impacts people from all backgrounds. It does not discriminate. It should not be startling to hear that someone who you might never think would ever overdose on opioids, actually overdoses on opioids. The main lesson that can be learned in the wake of the police chief’s death is that addiction impacts everyone. Knowing the general signs and symptoms of addiction (e.g. sneaky behavior, isolation, mood swings, lack of good hygiene) can help serve as a signal for someone who is in trouble. Pushing past the stigma of addiction and the people who struggle with it will not only help prevent further overdoses from occurring but also help those who need help to get it.
If you are addicted to opioids, make it your mission to call us right now. Continuing to abuse opioids will eventually end in death if it is not treated.
Addiction is a deadly disease. Do not let your life slip out of your hands because of your opioid abuse. Contact us right now. We can help you get the right drug treatment.