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Fentanyl Overconsumption in the U.S. – Is There No Way Out?

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A lot of recent studies have shown that the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the factors responsible for the suddenly shocking surge in opioid consumption in the West. Although this is true to a large extent as the crisis of fentanyl overconsumption in the U.S., in particular, has always been present among the country’s youth for decades. This overconsumption, however, has now turned into thousands of overdose (OD) cases and innumerable deaths in an alarming way.

Let’s explore the dynamics of the current situation…

What’s happening?

Recently, in August 2021, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a public warning about overconsumption and the increased OD cases among the American youth. This was issued due to the shocking statistics collected by the DEA which revealed the presence of more than 1.8 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. Since the release of these stats, the authorities have arrested almost 800 suspects involved in smuggling and selling such drugs with dangerously high doses of fentanyl.

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Why such increase?

Some of the experts consider the pandemic to be the reason behind such a sudden increase in consumer demand and purchase of fentanyl which is a painkiller but is often used in treatment for mental issues. The anxiety caused by the pandemic and the social restrictions increased depression and mental health cases among people who then turned to alcohol or recreational drug use for relaxation. However, after the lax social restrictions, many people increased the unassisted fentanyl consumption for recreation and “rave parties” and festivals to get “high” as the drug can be intoxicating when consumed in high doses.

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What’s the way out?

The Biden administration has been concerned about the growing fentanyl influx in the country and the thousands of yearly deaths due to its overdoses. The government, therefore, is keen on spending millions of dollars on the departments like the DEA for crackdowns and border control measures to stop the illegal influx of deadly opioids.

To tackle the issue and the increasingly alarming situation, the DEA is conducting raids and crackdowns on the drug cartels. Many have been arrested and still many are under surveillance. Along with this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) has taken a few steps to interrupt the consumption pattern among individuals, such as: 

  • Opening up new rehabs and treatment centers across the country with highly affordable prices.
  • Providing free healthcare services where possible, especially for mental health issues.
  • Controlling and countering the fentanyl and other unprescribed drugs sales with substitute drugs for pain and anxiety. 
  • Promoting fentanyl overdose-reversing drugs for immediate relief.
  • Enhancing health surveillance and tracking the treated patients to prevent relapses.
  • Promoting social awareness through public messages through social media and every other platform. Encouraging young minds to practice wellness activities like meditation and yoga for better adult life.
  • Investing in R&D by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) for the creation of innovative substitutes for pain management and mental health problems rather than drugs like fentanyl.

By approaching the issues through this strategy, the experts believe that the menace of drug abuse, in general, can be curbed to a great extent in the coming five years. This is one of the major issues which is being tackled by the authorities on a top priority basis.

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