Why are Louisiana doctors sounding alarm about Frankenstein opioid?

Why are Louisiana doctors sounding alarm about Frankenstein opioid?

LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) – Opioids have been on the radar of medical professionals and first responders in Louisiana and across the country for years, with overdose treatment Narcan available in their units and even sold without a prescription to prevent deaths. In Lafayette and the 8th Parish area, drug overdose deaths increased by 219% from 2016 to 2021.

One increasingly popular drug, stronger than fentanyl, emerged in Louisiana and has been making its way across the country over the past two years.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control on the number of deaths from opioid overdoses paint a grim picture.

Opioid overdose chart

Courtesy Centers for Disease Control

The graph shows the significant increase in deaths from opioids overall, largely due to “other” synthetic opioids both illicit and prescribed.

Between 1999 and 2021, 645,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Alarmingly, the opioid death rate in 1999 has risen six-fold in 2021. Even more shocking is that opioid overdoses accounted for 75% of drug deaths overall in 2021.

The Drug Enforcement Agency defines synthetic opioids as:

Substances made in a laboratory that act on the same targets in the brain as natural opioids (such as morphine and codeine) to produce analgesic (pain relief) effects.

Even more troubling is that the effects of these synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and methadone, are greater than those of their natural counterparts, codeine and morphine.

Fentanyl and methadone are approved for medical use under strict supervision and regulation, but are often acquired and abused by the public. Fortunately, Narcan is effective if given correctly under the right conditions.

Nitazines are referred to as “opioid Frankenstein drugs.” It is a Schedule I synthetic opioid. According to St. Tammany Parish Coroner, Dr. Charles Preston, the deadly drug is incredibly powerful:

It can be 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and also of concern is that it is made relatively easily from ingredients that can be obtained in various types of stores.

Dr. Preston also expressed concern to the Louisiana Radio Network about the fact that nitazine often goes undetected in a standard toxicology screen because it is produced and distributed faster than laboratories can create screening protocols.

American family doctors are raising the alarm for two reasons:

  • Nitazine is often mixed with heroin or fentanyl.
  • Multiple doses of Narcan are required to counteract an overdose.

Nitazine is distributed in two ways, either as a powder, liquid, or tablet. The counterfeit pills, according to the DEA, are falsely marketed as a form of Dilaudid or oxycodone.

The news is getting worse. The Drug Enforcement Administration explained:

Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea that they are taking these dangerous but highly effective medications. The DEA says these synthetic opioids can’t be properly identified until after a laboratory test, so people don’t realize they’re buying them until it’s too late.

The Louisiana Department of Health is working to combat the opioid crisis, especially during the holidays when drug use spikes.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, Louisiana has resources available in every parish.

Opiates help

Courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Health

Parents should learn about these illegal drugs

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to recognizing and understanding when your child is involved with illicit drugs.

Gallery source: Cindy Campbell

Top 6 Most Used Drugs in Montana

Drug use is on the rise across the United States and we are seeing it more and more here in Montana.

You would think marijuana would be number one, but since it’s legal now, arrests are much lower than in years past.

Here are the 6 most commonly used drugs in Montana.

Gallery source: Megan Saul

(Marks for translation) State News

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