New Jersey’s opioid crisis seems to keep getting worse, according to new studies. Data from 2014 show that overdose deaths from fentanyl, a prescription opioid, tripled in the state in 2014. State officials continue to study data and look for answers to this epidemic.
Fentanyl is an opioid that can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is typically used to manage moderate to severe pain, such as for terminal cancer patients. In the past few years, the drug has often been mixed with heroin and sold on the street, leading to a very dangerous concoction.
According to state data, 143 overdose deaths were attributed to fentanyl in 2014, up from 49 in 2013. In the last month alone, 55 overdoses and at least four deaths have been blamed on fentanyl-laced heroin.
Even though the drug is so dangerous, many people seek it out because it can offer a better high because of its higher potency. However, this also makes the drug more addicting. “What scares us is it’s a double-edged sword,” said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. “When (addicts) found out that it was out there they wanted it. The addiction becomes so unbelievable that the addicts’ only thought is to get a better high.”
And Fentanyl is relatively easy to come by. “One gram of pure fentanyl can be cut into approximately 7,000 doses for street sale,” the Center for Disease Control said in a 2008 report. “Manufacture of (fentanyl) requires minimal technical knowledge, and recipes for making (fentanyl) are available on the Internet.”
Read more about the fentanyl epidemic here.