America is experiencing one of its worst drug epidemics in history, and opiates are at the forefront. There are literally millions of Americans addicted to opiates, and according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 948,000 Americans reported using Heroin last year alone. Every week there are over 900 opiate-related deaths due in part to heroin and other drugs that have been laced with Fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than Heroin and, because of its potency, Fentanyl is becoming more and more prevalent in practically every drug sold in America. Knowingly or unknowingly, addicts are using Fentanyl in record numbers.
Here are 4 Reasons Behind Fentanyl’s Deadly Rise In Popularity.
1. More Bang For The Buck: Addicts are always looking for the biggest high. Drug traffickers know that their customers want something stronger, and are choosing to lace their street drugs with Fentanyl. In addition, some addicts searching for a more potent and cheaper drug have gone on to prefer Fentanyl over heroin or prescription painkillers. As Kristen Marshall, a member of the Harm Reduction Coalition in San Francisco states, “For drug users, it’s just like you or I making decisions about the products we choose when we grocery shop. Fentanyl is stronger, you need less of it, and it’s cheaper. So why wouldn’t I, as somebody with limited funds, want to spend my money on something that’s a better value and therefore a better product?”
2. Some Addicts Don’t Know They Are Using Fentanyl: In her study, “Heroin Uncertainties: Exploring Users’ Perceptions Of Fentanyl-Adulterated And-Substituted ‘Heroin’,” Dr. Sarah Mars states, “Fentanyl is rarely sold as Fentanyl. The dealers selling Fentanyl directly to the users often don’t know what’s in it.” Meanwhile police in Gulfport Mississippi issued a warning to the public for counterfeit Oxycodone tablets that look like regular “Oxys”, but were instead Fentanyl and were involved in numerous overdose deaths. A subsequent DEA Lab analysis revealed that the pills contained no Oxycodone at all. The musician Prince died from an overdosed of what he thought was Vicodin, but was actually a counterfeit laced with Fentanyl. “In all likelihood, Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,” said Prosecution Attorney Mark Metzat at a news conference detailing Prince’s death. Many addicts considerably less famous than Prince are just as unaware that they are using Fentanyl.
3. It’s Cheaper To Make Than Heroin: Fentanyl is easily and quickly made in a lab. Comparatively, Heroin is produced by first growing opium poppies—which takes a minimum of 4 months to grow to maturity—and then converting the resin from the plants—through a complex and time consuming process—into Heroin. As Fentanyl is way more potent then Heroin the profit margin for drug traffickers is considerably more. According to a U.S. Law Enforcement Task Force known as the Fentanyl Working Group, the cost to produce one kilogram of Fentanyl is $32,000 with a street value of $20 million. The Fentanyl Working Group believes that the majority of the world’s supply of illicit Fentanyl comes from labs in China. It’s then shipped to the United States through Latin America where drug traffickers use it to cut their heroin, which further boosts their profits.
4. A Reaction To The Current Restriction Of Prescription Pain Medication: The Opioid epidemic began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical corporations, using falsified test results, assured the medical community that certain prescription pain medications were non-addictive. Believing the test results presented by these pharmaceutical companies, doctors began prescribing painkillers in record numbers. Segue to twenty years later, doctors were writing more than 238 million prescriptions for pain meds every year. The use of opioids has spread across every demographic in the United States and a third of the adult population were using prescription pain relievers. Not so unpredictably the number of cases regarding addiction, overdoses, and deaths were also increasing and the Department of Justice began to take notice. Eventually, the Feds charged many pharmaceutical companies with misleading the medical community in regards to the drug’s potential for abuse and major restrictions were placed on all opiate prescriptions. The people addicted to these prescription drugs were now told that they could no longer be prescribed pain meds. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four in five new heroin users started out by misusing the previously mention prescription painkillers, and now 94 percent of those addicts switched to illicit street drugs because they could no longer get the pain medications they were originally prescribed. Now with Fentanyl use on the rise, these addicts are right in the cross hairs for potential overdoses.
This continued rise in Fentanyl abuse is due to its easy access and abundant availability. Public health officials, law enforcement, and emergency personnel struggle to respond as this crisis continues to expand. In his study “The Future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids,” researcher Bryce Pardo suggests that the opioid epidemic could still get worse if Fentanyl use becomes more widespread, “One of the most important and depressing insights in this analysis is that however bad the synthetic opioid problem is now, it is likely to get worse before it gets better.” According to Tim Pifer, the Director of the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory “You don’t know what you’re taking. You’re injecting yourself with a loaded gun.”
Patrick O’Neil is the author of Gun, Needle, Spoon and is a contributing editor to Sensitive Skin Magazine. He works with Natashia Deon on the project Redeemed, helping rehabilitated felons work on receiving a possible pardon. In fact, O’Neil was pardoned by Governor Jerry Brown for his past felony convictions. Yeah, that’s so much fun to say.
Enjoy the show.
Drinks with Tony is hosted by Tony DuShane. The show has aired on KFJC, Pirate Cat Radio, and Radio Valencia since 2001. It has also been available as a podcast on and off over the years, but now, we’re back every Wednesday.
The show features interviews with writers and storytellers. Over the years we’ve had hundreds of guests including Nick Cave, Steve Buscemi, James Ellroy, Wim Wenders, Parker Posey, Marlon James, Amy Sedaris, and more.
DuShane is an author, screenwriter, and writing instructor at UCLA Extension. Go to www.tonydushane.com for more info.
Everyone at one time or another has been nervous or uncomfortable in social situations. Some have gotten unexplained shy when introduced to someone new, or become nervous when required to give a presentation, and others have experienced a sense of panic in a dense crowd. While all of the aforementioned moments can be very unsettling, most people get over them and move on.
However, if you have social anxiety the stress from these situations can be so overwhelming you may begin to avoid all social interactions. The fear of intimacy at the group level is devastatingly uncomfortable. In a room full of strangers you feel like you’re being judged or even talked about. It’s so bad you say you are no longer going to participate in anxiety provoking social engagements. Then that certain “must go to party” pops up on your calendar and you HAVE to attend.
So… How Do You Show Up At The Party?
1. The Wallflower: You know who you are. You’re the one that stands in the corner all alone with your “introverted personality” distancing yourself from the gathering and avoiding the limelight. You really want to be able talk to somebody, or maybe you really want someone to be able to talk to you, but you’re too afraid of rejection and scared of intimacy to make that happen. You watch everybody else carry on conversations and make new friends and wonder how the hell they get out there in front of everyone seemingly without a care in the world. You press your back against the wall, untouched drink in hand, and stare at the carpet hoping they will all just magically disappear. Afterwards you’ll be upset for not being able to engage, but silently vow to never attend a public gathering again. This will leave you sad and in fear of being socially awkward for the rest of your life.
2. The Drinker: Just the thought of talking to that hot guy at the party makes you nauseous. Instead you b-line straight for the bar and down several drinks in quick succession. You tell yourself you need the social lubricant in order to deal with that horrid small talk. But really it’s to deaden your anxious nerves and to not feel the internal panic that you do. Three drinks and a couple of shots later your anxiety is all but forgotten and you’re half naked and dancing with wild abandon. The next morning you’ll wake up in fear with no recollection of what transpired the night before, wondering what terrible things you might have done, and even more stressed out and anxious.
3. The Gossiper: You feel so bad about yourself and your inability to socialize that you negatively focus on everyone else. Instead of getting out there and mingling, you’ll find another equally unhappy person and together you’ll awkwardly commiserate about all the terribly dressed losers that the host has invited. You’ll talk smack about a person until they say, “Hi.” Then you’ll look the other way, afraid to make eye contact. The reality is you judge yourself just as much, if not more, than you judge everyone else. Your anxiety causes you to have a negative outlook towards other people and that outlook is causing you more and more anxiety. Your snarkiness is your dysfunctional social buffer, but when the party is over there you are. All alone, still talking that talk, and endlessly judging yourself.
4. The Quiet One: Social anxiety takes shy to a whole other level. Like the wallflower you want to be able talk to someone but your anxiety isn’t letting you. Eye contact is painful. Some drunk is dancing half naked and his sloppy aggressive behavior is making you even more introverted. You are so wishing you hadn’t come, but you’re here. You look at your watch. You’ll stay another 10 minutes and then leave unfashionably early. On the way home you’ll regret having ever gone. An hour later you’ll scold yourself for having screwed up another opportunity to have a decent social interaction or meet someone new.
5. The Worrier: For you one of the worst parts about your social anxiety is the fear that your anxiety is noticeable. At the party you get so nervous that your avoidance behaviors are showing your hands shake, your damn palms become sweaty, you get short of breath, and your face is flushed. You go to the bathroom and stare at yourself in the mirror convinced that everyone knows you’re anxious. You spend at least fifteen minutes analyzing your every awkward social interaction since childhood. You replay every conversation over and over again in your head scrutinizing what you said that was wrong. Someone knocks on the door and you panic. You leave the safety of the small locked bathroom with your head down, avoiding all the judgmental eye contact, and quietly exit the party.
Social anxiety is the third largest psychological problem in the United States and it is considered chronic because it doesn’t just go away on its own. However, social anxiety is a treatable condition. Psychotherapy, antidepressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most widely used treatments for social anxiety. If you think you may have social anxiety, talk to your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Left untreated your anxieties may end up dominating your life, interfering with relationships, work, school, and your overall general happiness. Asking for the help you need is the first step toward living a less anxious life.