Media Awareness

As Opioid Overdose Deaths Surge, It’s Time for a Reality Check

In a year riddled with grim milestones, the recent marking of a record 100,000 drug overdose deaths in America didn’t remain long in the news cycle.

An injectable drug in a syringe with prescription medication strewn about
The Nevada Independent - logo
Originally Published: December 5, 2021

If this were a fire, it would be burning out of control.

Of late, experts often point to the pandemic as a lynchpin for the increase in synthetic opioid addiction and overdose death, and that makes some sense. People were stuck indoors and experiencing psychological trauma. Those fighting addiction lacked access to treatment.

Mike Vigil believes there’s a much bigger picture that tends to get lost in such an analysis, though. The former chief of international operations of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Vigil has been warning the public for years about the rising threat of synthetic opioid trafficking to society. It is an addiction epidemic being fed by easy and inexpensive access to drugs such as OxyContin and powerful fentanyl.

The surge in fatalities, according to the CDC, correlates with the increased availability of fentanyl, regulated by prescription and unregulated on the street. At 50 times more potent than heroin, it is easy to overdose and has been the primary drug present in nearly two of every three overdose deaths. Fentanyl is showing up mixed in heroin and cocaine, making those drugs more volatile.

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