Even though the level of opioid abuse and overdose has already reached epidemic proportions, the problem is continuing to escalate into a new and more dramatic phase. Researchers are predicting that the problem will keep growing and shift into a different form as new kinds of opioids are being consumed more often. They also predict that some of the programs aimed restricting access to prescription painkillers may not be enough to stem the tide of abuse.
One of the biggest issues that is changing the path of the opioid epidemic is the introduction of new and powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This synthetic drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and even a small amount can lead to an overdose if the user doesn’t have enough of a tolerance. Fentanyl has led to overdoses in areas throughout the country and even a mass overdose where 13 people at the same party needed to be revived.
The number of overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl has been steadily rising and causing health issues all over the U.S. Fentanyl is dangerous not only because it is so potent but also due to its low “therapeutic index” or the line between a safe dose and a fatal one. It can be very easy to overdose on fentanyl because even a microgram can be too much for a person’s body to handle.
Researchers predict that fentanyl will cause an increase in opioid abuse and overdose in the near future. It may be some time before the U.S. is able to reduce instances of opioid addiction and deaths related to opioid abuse. Our current programs may not be enough to prevent the growing number of deaths resulting from both prescription opioids and fentanyl.
New tactics may be necessary to try to change the current course of the opioid epidemic.