Because of the rising popularity of synthetic fentanyl on the black market, health experts fear that opioid overdose cases this year will greatly exceed the number of incidents recorded last year. Doctors recommend fentanyl to cancer patients who suffer from excruciating pains. However, at some point, drug traffickers started to mix the powerful substance with other opiates, which set the stage for the opioid crisis the nation now faces and caused the deaths of thousands of people. Usually, fentanyl is mixed with heroin, say researchers.
Franklin Recovery Center’s Dr. Ruth Potee, an addiction specialist said the effectiveness of fentanyl increased, leading to a surge in the opioid overdose cases. According to Dr. Potee, health experts are in need of more methadone clinics to assist patients since there are only seven available at the moment in western Massachusetts. Moreover, each one of the clinics is already full and patients in need of immediate attention have to wait for anywhere from six to eight weeks, which for most is a death warrant, said Dr. Potee.
According to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts’ Department of Health officials estimate the number of deaths associated with opioid overdose cases will increase by 24 percent this year. Furthermore, experts said the number of heroin addicts who died as a result of an overdose is significantly smaller than that of the individuals who succumbed to the powerful synthetics opioid, fentanyl.
Gov. Charlie Baker issued a warning saying synthetic fentanyl continues to remain an active threat to certain individuals, social groups, and families of addicts alike, for both the state of Massachusetts as well as the nation as a whole. In light of these events, Gov. Baker swore to provide support to law enforcement agencies in pursuing and arresting drug traffickers and dealers while also adding supplementary treatment options for addicts. Hence, he signed what is believed to be the most comprehensive law in the U.S. to fight against opioid addiction. The legislature includes a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opiate painkillers, as health experts say opioid overdose cases stem from individuals getting hooked on painkillers that were either taken illegally or prescribed.
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