Opioid Epidemic

There are actually TWO opioid epidemics in the United States. You know the one where people are taking too many prescription painkillers, but there’s also a lot synthetic opioids that are being produced outside the country and ending up in the United States.

Let’s first look at the prescription painkiller front, which is primarily a domestic issue.

You go to your doctor because you’re in pain, and they prescribe opioids. Plain and simple. You might be working in a field that involves a lot of physical strength and end up with aches and pains or even severe back pain, and then you go to the doctor. Many painkillers have addictive properties, but opioids are actually quite strong, which is why they are so favorable. Moreover, doctors are incentivized to provide patients with what they need to be comfortable and pain-free. When the patient comes back again wanting an even stronger dose, the doctor then has to question whether or not the patient is getting hooked but usually doesn’t do much thinking on that subject and simply increases the dose. Since opioids themselves actually increase pain sensitivity, you end up less able to cope with even lighter aches and pains than before ou started taking the opioids. Alongside your brain telling you that you crave higher doses, you actually need higher doses, as well.

Additional risk factors that contribute to this addiction include those are who are already hooked on other drugs, teenagers and young adults, and people who are suffering from severe forms of long-term depression.

This now accounts for a little less than 50% of all opioid deaths in the United States.

Synthetic opioids account for more than half as of 2016. They’re not made by pharmaceutical companies, and they are intended to exploit their addictive properties, ruining people’s lives.

You may have heard the names fentanyl, carfentanil, and others. You may not have heard of U47700, AH-7921, MT-45, W-18. Fentanyl has become quite popular in political conversations. China has technically banned fentanyl, but right after that, carfentanil became a huge export from China so they’re not really doing much except changing the formula. In fact, U47700, also from China, is transdermal. That means the chemical seeps in through your skin. You don’t even need an open sore or a cut because it’ll go through your pores. So, if you touch U47700, you’re gonna get the same effect as if you snort it, inject it, etc. In some cases, it’s going to kill you. In fact, Mexican drug cartels accepting shipment of U47700 from China and smuggling it into the United States have to wear gloves when they handle it so that they don’t get killed.

So, if you touch U47700, you’ll get the same effects as if you snort it, inject it, etc. In some cases, it’s going to kill you. In fact, Mexican drug cartels accepting shipment of U47700 from China and smuggling it into the United States have to wear gloves when they handle it so that they don’t get killed.

You can read more about synthetics as well as many precursor chemicals that are being used to create fentanyl and others by reading this State Department report. The document is 297 pages so it’ll take some time, but I recommend it if you’re obsessed with details like I am. Fun fact: the country of Benin in Sub-Saharan Africa is being comparatively impactful in this fight relative to its small size.

So how exactly are these opioids killing people?

12 comments

  1. Thanks for shedding an incisive light on this. We need to remove the stigma of “the junkie” and start viewing sufferers as not so different from ourselves.

    1. Jessica, you’re right. They’re just like us. While one person is more susceptible to addiction, someone else is more likely to contract something that an addict would not.

      If we see the potential for ourselves to become victims, then we won’t want to marginalize, discredit, or look down upon someone who is suffering already.

      I’m glad to have you here. If you have any additional information about the opioid crisis, I’d be happy to hear from you.

    2. To me it’s just like homelessness or any social issue. There but for the grace of the Force go I.

    3. Exactly, and this is definitely a social issue, a national crisis. The White House wants to treat it like a crime and go after the addicts.

      They need to treat the wounded AND go after the criminals, but the victims aren’t the criminals.

      They should go after the opioid production companies in China that operate online pharmacies and load these drugs onto megaton container ships.

    4. Imprison more. Teach less. Increase Federal Civil Forfeiture. Beat down the poor, old, most at risk, helpless. Take away our social safety nets. Leave people uninsured. Loyalty. Restrict the First Amendment. Attack the free . Turn the people into a subclass below the super wealthy who run the country. Blind nationalism. It’s almost as if someone was trying to make the US more like an autocracy, like Russia or something.

    5. They believe they have all the answers, some incontrovertible plan that will fix everything, just so long as we fall in line or get out of the way.

      They can try to force us, but regardless of their methodology, their solutions are wrong, out of date, and out of touch, and I hope they learn that before more people get hurt.

  2. Working on the front lines of this exact problem, I think this was well written, informative, and kept the politics out of it for the most part. Very well researched and constructed.

    I don’t agree with you politically in some areas, but I think one of the best ways to combat this particular epidemic is people like you educating others in just this way. Very good job!

    1. Thank you so much for the work that you do. Since you have personal experience, please share what an individual can do on their own to stop this epidemic. Anything little they can do.

      I’m glad you’re here. At times, we’ll disagree, but it makes me just as excited to hear a dissenting opinion than my own opinion repeated back to me. That’s how we can actually get somewhere!

      If you have any additional information on the opioid epidemic, I’d love to hear from you.

    2. Individuals who ARE addicted can absolutely ask for help. I know it may seem (from the outside) that it is shameful. But healthcare workers deal with it all the time. I’d much rather hear a patient say “I think I’m addicted, can you help me out?” Than have to dodge around their vomit in the trauma room while they aspirate and die. Besides nurses are absolutely cool with questions like this, and have tons of resources to give you for free. Same with pharmacists. Will we talk about you after you’re gone? Yeah. But we’ll say things like “Hats off for that kid. He’s doing the right thing.”

      Individuals who KNOW someone who is addicted, use these resources:

      Crisis Call Center
      800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
      Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
      http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisis-services

      The National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center
      800-784-6776
      Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
      http://www.addictioncareoptions.com

      National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism
      800-662-HELP (4357)
      Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
      http://www.niaaa.nih.gov

      Let them know they’re in good hands and you want to be someone they can go to. Give them the numbers.

      Healthcare providers can help by asking the hard questions about drug therapies and how the patient takes them. Addiction is such a taboo, which is laughable, because everyone has them.

      I’ve personally seen 60 lbs of necrotic tissue carved off an ugly person’s naked backside and crotch. Complete with maggots.

      Someone asking for help for an addiction is a breath of fresh air. Literally in some cases.

      Walk into anyplace with a nurse…and just give it to them straight. It might be an awkward three minutes, but after that they’ll help you! Besides, it isn’t nearly as awkward as “fidget spinner stuck on penis” written on the ER admission board.

    3. Thank you for providing this valuable information.

      Anyone reading this should know that we all have addictions, and that’s okay. Might even be a part of being human. What’s not okay is the stigma that having an addiction makes you somehow inferior. That’s not true. We used to say a physical impairment meant you were also somehow dumber than others, and that’s now widely considered ridiculous.

      However, mental illness and addiction both seem to imply that you’re not as valuable. As a society, we need to be more mature than that.

      You’re definitely just as valuable and definitely worth saving. No matter what.

      So text or call one of the numbers above if you need help or know someone who does. It doesn’t have to be a perfect message either. “Help” will do just fine.

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