A New Major Public Health Crisis
I like to use this platform to speak to my patients- earnestly, honestly, and passionately. Some topics are light and fun. Others are serious. But this one just might save someone‘s life.
Fentanyl deaths have now become the number one killer of children under 18 in Orange County. That is terrifying. More than car accidents, gun related incidents, cancer, infection or abuse. Fentanyl deaths are also occurring extensively in the adult population.
Drug cartels are using fentanyl which is a cheap, synthetic, highly addictive opioid to dilute (“cut-in”) many drugs: 1) powdered forms (cocaine, heroin), 2) marijuana, and 3) counterfeit pills (Xanax, Adderall, Percocet). A recent study by UCLA found @ 25% of pills in Mexican pharmacies also contained fentanyl.
Only 2 mg of fentanyl is lethal. Fentanyl is a narcotic, and death is due to suppression of respiratory drive. Breathing stops, then the heart stops. Fentanyl (and all narcotic) overdose can be reversed with Narcan. This comes as a nasal injection and can be obtained at pharmacies in CA without a prescription. Sometimes more than 1 narcan dose is needed. Fentanyl test strips are also available, and can test substances for presence of fentanyl before ingesting.
Purchasing street meds has become easier than ever due to social media (snap chat, etc.) Children are being marketed and targeted. At the same time prescribing legal controlled substances has become more difficult. Unfortunately, this may drive an increase in use of illegal street meds.
So educate yourself. Get Narcan. Read about this health problem on sites like @onepillkilled.org. TALK to your kids. Start when they are very young. Be open. Be honest. Raise awareness. Reassure them if they are seeking xanax for anxiety, you will help address their mental health needs safely. DONT. TAKE. PILLS. And if you do- use test strips. Be careful. Look out for your friends. It will take all of us being vigilant, nonjudgmental, and aware to curb this crisis. lethal dose