SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s National Recovery Month, which aims to raise awareness on the opioid crisis and substance use disorders.
The very powerful drug fentanyl is being laced into more and more illegal drugs in western Massachusetts. Just a small amount can kill you.
Its been two years since Serre almost died from a fentanyl overdose. He explained to 22News.
“I had an overdose from fentanyl. I’m lucky to have escaped that and to have found treatment. Actively using, as you can imagine, is awful, terrible, nothing good about it. The fentanyl now-a-days is a scary thing. A lot of people are dying from it.”Nick Serre of Westfield
State health officials are blaming fentanyl for nearly 90 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts last year.
Dr. Roose said Springfield was one of the urban communities where opioid overdose deaths actually went up.
“It’s about 100 times more powerful than heroin and perhaps even more so than morphine. Now when its taken into the body, it can slow down the breathing rate and because of that it can cause the heart to stop.”Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Roose at Mercy Medical Center
The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office is working with local law enforcement and the federal and state governments to take dealers off the streets.
“Overdoses are still happening and we are working on that and its very sad. But it’s really a safety issue because what’s being sold doesn’t have an ingredient list on that.”Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni
Gulluni told 22News they’re now seeing more fentanyl being mixed in with cocaine. He said most of the fentanyl is being produced in Mexico and China and it’s being smuggled into the country in pills and powder form.
What is it?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths. Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.
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How is it used?
- Intense, short-term high
- Temporary feelings of euphoria
- Slowed respiration and reduced blood pressure