During the first 9 months of 2021, Anne Arundel County saw 708 opioid overdoses. This is a decrease of 17% from 2020. Unfortunately, 137 of those overdoses were fatal. The most common substance involved in an overdose fatality is fentanyl, a synthetic pain medication similar to morphine. According to DrugAbuse.org (2021), drug dealers secretly mix fentanyl with other drugs because of the desired high it produces for a much lower cost. This is extremely dangerous for the user who is not aware they are taking a stronger drug and consequently overdoses.
An opioid overdose occurs when the body is overwhelmed by the effects of a drug and breathing slows down or stops, limiting the oxygen that can reach the brain. Unless the victim is given naloxone (also known as Narcan) to reverse the symptoms and restore breathing, the overdose can lead to brain damage, coma, or death.
Fentanyl is a prescription pain killer. (Brand names include Sublimaze, Duragesic, and Actiq.) Because it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine (DrugAbuse.org, 2021), dependence or addiction to fentanyl is possible, even when taken as prescribed. Be certain to discuss the risks versus benefits with your doctor before starting fentanyl.
Learn how you can save a life. Register for naloxone training at PreventSubstanceMisuse.org/narcan-training