The opioid epidemic is only getting worse rather than better and last month, a recovering addict from Ohio described his home state as “ground zero” for opioid use, especially illegal fentanyl. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recently published a report, which reveals that this deadly, illicit fentanyl is entering into the United States from China.
This report details and documents the flow and path of the drug as it makes its way from China to the United States, sometimes passing through Mexico. This illicit fentanyl coming from China is accountable for contributing to the nationwide opioid epidemic and is responsible for the spike in addiction rates and overdose-related deaths in the past couple of years.
Back in 2015, the National Forensic Laboratory Information System collected investigative fentanyl samples from local and state forensic laboratories. Out of all the investigative samples that they tested, Ohio had the most. According to their report, Ohio had 3,897 fentanyl samples in 2015, followed by Massachusetts, which had 2,556 samples.
When compared to heroin and morphine, fentanyl happens to be fifty and hundred times more potent, respective. That has why health and law enforcement officials have become so increasingly concerned about this widespread of this powerful synthetic opioid in the United States. According to the report, the reason drug users are attracted to it and end up getting addicted to it is because of how addictive it is, and to get high, a user merely has to take less than 1 milligram of illicit fentanyl. A lethal dose of illicit fentanyl is merely 2 milligrams, which is equal to just two grains of salt.
The use of fentanyl in the United States as a painkiller to treat severe pain, specifically for cancer patients, can be traced back to over 50 years ago. However, it eventually ended up becoming a popular illicit drug. The report also points out that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection tends to seize this synthetic opioid rather frequently. Based on fentanyl samples that law enforcement agencies have collected over the past two years, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has concluded that positive fentanyl samples have been rising steadily. From 2015 to 2016, cases of fentanyl rose from 1,110 to 2,396.
To a great extent, the drug market is now being dominated by illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The rise in positive fentanyl samples has coincided with a decline in positive tests for heroin. Positive tests for heroin had been rising annually from 2010 to 2016. From 2015 to 2016 though, those positive tests dropped down from 6,832 to 5,768. Heroin use is still prevalent but not as prevalent as before, and this is why people have been dying as a result of overdosing on synthetic
Ohio has been “ground zero” for the growing heroin and opioid abuse crisis for quite a long time. While the epidemic keeps on shifting, it has not been successful diminished, even though awareness is being spread. Its origins can back to when pill mills were established in cities like Portsmouth, making synthetic opioids easily accessible to anyone who wanted to get high on them. Back in 2014, the rate of opioid overdose-related deaths in Ohio was the highest in the country. In order to address the growing opioid epidemic in Ohio, a second statewide meeting will soon by held by Mike DeWine, the state’s Attorney General.