Fentanyl – Not Just an Opioid Problem – Warns Caron Treatment Centers
Leading Treatment Provider Encourages Communities, Families to Educate Themselves about the Dangers of Adulterated Drugs
Wernersville, PA (March 15, 2022) – Caron Treatment Centers, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment, research, prevention, and addiction medicine education is warning communities and families about fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid, now adulterating everything from cocaine to marijuana, and advising families and communities to educate themselves, amid an increasingly alarming overdose rate.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before, largely attributed to fentanyl.
According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. When people overdose on fentanyl, their breathing can slow or stop. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can lead to a coma and permanent brain damage, and even death.
“What many people don’t realize is that fentanyl is no longer solely associated with heroin. It’s turning up in drugs like cocaine, cannabis, Ecstasy and even black market stimulants and benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium, as well as oxycontin,” said Dr. Joseph Garbely, D.O., Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Medical Research and Education at Caron. “That means there is no casual use of these substances – your first time could literally be your last.”
Dr. Christopher Grant, Psy.D., a staff psychologist and Clinical Supervisor of Caron’s Teen and Young Adult Male Services, reports that more young patients coming into treatment, who do not have an opioid use disorder, are being admitted to Caron with fentanyl in their system.
“As more teens and young adults emerge from the pandemic with mental health issues, it’s critical that families discuss the increasing prevalence of fentanyl with adolescents and young adults as part of an ongoing dialogue about healthy coping skills and the dangers of substance use,” said Dr. Grant. “Tragically, many people are unaware that they’re playing Russian Roulette,” added Dr. Adam Scioli, D.O., Caron’s Medical Director and Head of Psychiatry. “There’s an urgent need to raise awareness among individuals and families about these issues and the importance of accessing treatment."
Naloxone is approved to treat a fentanyl overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioid drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides detailed information about how naloxone can be used to save someone who is overdosing and where it is available.
Caron’s medical team urges families and communities to take immediate action to educate themselves about naloxone. They strongly encourage people to consider keeping naloxone in their homes and places where people congregate.
“If you’ve suspected someone has overdosed and you don’t know what they’ve taken - the most important step is to call 911 so they can receive immediate medical attention,” said Garbely. “Medical personnel will administer naloxone if they suspect an opioid drug is involved.”
For additional guidance on supporting youth today, please visit Caron’s Education Alliance Resource Kit for parents and youth-serving professionals. If you have additional questions or concerns about a loved one’s substance use, you can also reach out to Caron directly.
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