Dying to Get Higher: Fentanyl Exacerbating Opioid Crisis (cont.)

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a report in 2016, indicating that hundreds of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills have been entering the U.S. drug market for two years. The number of fentanyl encounters more than doubled, from 5,343 in 2014 to 13,882 in 2015. The top 10 states for number of fentanyl seizures were Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, and Indiana—yielding 3,790 in total. This year, two men arrested by New Jersey State Police were sentenced after authorities seized 100 pounds of fentanyl. In 2017, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized roughly 2,400 pounds of fentanyl.

Addressing the opiate epidemic, federal lawmakers are ready to earmark new funding for education, treatment, and prevention services. The House began voting on a series of 57 bills in June. The bipartisan-backed legislation and proposals aim to stop illegal fentanyl from entering the U.S., change how opioids are distributed, make opioid addiction treatment more readily available, provide funding to educate treatment professionals and speed up research on new non-addictive pain medications.

Bills passed include measures to provide resources to help hospitals discharge patients after an overdose by providing them with the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. Additionally, they would connect the patient with peer support specialists and treatment centers. The Food and Drug Administration would also be given more authority to stop illegal drugs shipped through the mail. Another bill authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop and share best ways for operating housing facilities that help people recovering from addiction.

The Senate is expected to vote on opioid legislation this summer.

Additionally, drug courts on municipal and county levels are getting addicts into treatment, changing how the judicial system deals with users.

The goal with any illicit drug is to remove the supply, but demand will keep fueling it.