Fentanyl is being added to street drugs at ever-increasing rates.
More people are dying from illicit opioid overdoses in the Baton Rouge area without abusing these addictive drugs, according to officials, than any other year prior. This is due to counterfeit pills containing fentanyl that continue to make their way into the area – and in many other areas of the United States. In fact, according to the Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, “85% of the 172 overdose deaths this year were due to fentanyl,” a lethal synthetic opioid can is especially dangerous to consume when users don’t realize other illicit drugs are being laced with it.
In total, Coroner Beau Clark’s office has reported 214 fatal overdoses from street drugs in the parish this year alone. “Many people aren’t opioid abusers but are dying of opioid overdoses is increasing,” Clark said, adding, “We’re seeing a lot of folks that are traditional stimulant users, like cocaine, dying of an opioid overdose, based on conversations with their families.”
Fentanyl comes with a high risk for addiction, in general, and can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in large doses or when combined with other substances, especially if users have no tolerance. Unfortunately, the U.S. has seen an ever-increasing amount of street drugs that were being laced with fentanyl without buyer knowledge.
“The troubling trend likely stems from an influx of black market street drugs laced with fentanyl, which can have catastrophic consequences for someone with no built-up tolerance to the drugs,” explained District Attorney Hillar Moore III, adding, “Law enforcement this year has encountered drugs such as marijuana and cocaine laced with fentanyl.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reported this month that it has also notice an “alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fake prescription pills bought on the black market that contain fentanyl and methamphetamine.” In fact, more than “9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized nationwide” this year alone. The agency said traffickers who manufacture pills in Mexico and China are largely responsible for these lethal combinations, in a concentrated effort to take advantage of American citizens.
“That’s what pisses me off about a dealer,” Moore said. “They don’t care who the person is that comes to them to buy and what their history is of abuse and mental issues. This is a profit, and they don’t care about the end result.”
A release by the DEA reads, “DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.”
Moore explained, “Baton Rouge law enforcement has encountered an alarming increase of pill presses in the hands of drug dealers, indicating the trend holds true in the capital region.” He added, “The parish is poised to easily surpass the record 242 overdose deaths in 2020.”
Jon Daily, a grant writer for the DA’s office agreed, saying, “The parish is seeing 6.15 deaths per week (as of the first of October), up from a rate of 5.6 deaths per week in mid-July. At the current rate, there will be 321 fatal overdoses by the end of the year.”