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Fentanyl epidemic in the USA. Synthetic opioid is taking a deadly toll

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It slows down breathing, stops circulation, and kills within minutes – this is the result of an overdose of fentanyl. This agent is used by anesthesiologists to put a patient to sleep or relieve pain. Drug dealers and drug addicts do not have such caution and knowledge. Fentanyl is taking a deadly toll in the United States.

Scenes from the so-called ground zero in Philadelphia shock only visitors. Americans have become accustomed to streets or even entire neighborhoods full of “zombies”, as people addicted to synthetic opioids are called. The most dangerous is fentanyl – a drug up to 100 times stronger than heroin. In America it is called a weapon of mass destruction. – My son Emilio was 19 years old , he had a toothache. Someone gave him a pill that was supposed to be a painkiller. It was a fake, made of fentanyl and fillers. My son died – says Cammie Velci, the mother of a fentanyl victim.

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Last year alone, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Fentanyl was responsible for as many as three-quarters of the cases. Last year, America finally saw light at the end of the tunnel, as opioid overdose deaths dropped – albeit slightly – for the first time since 2018. – The greatest threat to our communities, our children and our families is fentanyl, which is poisoning and killing Americans at a catastrophic and record rate. Many Americans who have died from fentanyl had no idea they were taking it, said Frank Tarantino of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Fentanyl dealers feel like kings of life in Żuromin. Especially “Ghost” behaves like an untouchableMarzanna Zielińska/Fakty TVN

Vending machines with first aid kits

Addiction to fentanyl and other opioids has been America's biggest social problem for at least a decade. The authorities are officially talking about an epidemic. Its origins date back to the 1990s, when doctors, encouraged by pharmaceutical companies, began prescribing strong opioid-based painkillers en masse and without restraint. Patients even with minor ailments began to take fentanyl, previously prescribed mainly to people in the severe phase of cancer.

– When it comes to indications, they are quite narrow: cancer pain, pain in palliative patients and when we have to put the patient into a medically induced coma – says Eryk Matuszkiewicz, M.D., toxicologist.

Today, every American ambulance and police car is equipped with a kit to save people who have taken fentanyl. Naloxone – a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose – saves thousands of lives. It also found its way into schools as fentanyl became the number one killer of young Americans. There are even vending machines with first aid kits in New York.

SEE ALSO: 19-year-old found dead in the apartment, “the cause of death was fentanyl”

– Many people would live if there were such machines in their neighborhood. They did not have free, easy access to the drug, says Rebecca Linn-Walton, a volunteer with Services for the Underserved. – This drug is so addictive, so strong that it takes people's lives, like our son's – confesses one of the women. In April, a committee of the US Congress directly accused China, where intermediates necessary for the production of fentanyl are produced, of deliberately starting the epidemic. The answer has been the same for years: no one forces anyone to take drugs.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Enex

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