Heroin, a highly addictive illegal opioid drug, is crippling communities across the country. Sadly, heroin is now often laced with the very dangerous drug, fentanyl. According to the Franklin County Health Department, the 2016 Ohio record of 4,050 drug overdose deaths “were driven in large part by the emergence of stronger drugs like the synthetic painkiller fentanyl” (2017, as cited by Fox 8 News). So, exactly what is fentanyl?
Fentanyl (\ˈfen-tə-ˌnil\) is an opioid, similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times stronger. “It is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery” (Inpatient & Outpatient Addiction Treatment Program, 2016). Street produced fentanyl is not regulated and the strength or power of the drug can vary steeply. Illegal drug users do not often know the drugs they are taking are laced with fentanyl, causing an expected high to quickly turn into a lethal overdose.
Narcan or naloxone is a drug used to treat overdoses of opioids. The Sidney Fire Department, Wilson Health Emergency Room, and the Sidney Police Department combined gave 54 doses of Narcan in 2014. That number has risen to 254 Narcan doses in 2016 (Shelby County Opioid Task Force, 2016). The illegal drug problem in Shelby County is a growing concern.
We hope you will join the Shelby County Drug Task Force in a Community Conversation on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Church Sanctuary, 120 W. Water Street, Sidney. This event will be an informative and interactive discussion on the drug crisis in our community You will hear from community leaders, government agencies, law enforcement, and healthcare experts on the alarming impact drug abuse is having on our communities and how we are working together to address this challenging issue. This event is free and open to the public.
This is one article in a series of articles written with the backing of the Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee with the goal of increasing awareness and developing supports to prevent heroin use.
Julie Willoughby, Ph.D., is a parent advocate for Shelby County Opiate Task Force Education and Prevention Committee. She also is the principal of Urbana North Elementary School.