An important element in the fight against drug use and addiction is awareness of the drugs currently hot on the market. Bostec’s website lists a number of the drugs you might have heard of, including common names for methamphetamines, opioids, cocaine and more. Other drugs, too, seem constantly to be coming to light.
Here’s a snapshot of drug facts and information in the United States:
Lately, news cycles have been dominated by the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, which have been resulting in numerous overdose deaths across the United States. Recently on the East Coast, for example, dozens of overdoses have been reported near the campus of Yale University. Synthetic cannabinoids, sold in gas stations under such brand names as K2 and Spice, are essentially dried plant material laced with lab-made chemicals designed to produce a high.
These “fake marijuana” products are incredibly dangerous, especially when — as is suspected in the recent rash of overdoses — they are laced with powerful opioids like fentanyl. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabinoids can be even more dangerous than marijuana: “They are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.”
Dig deeper: What’s the deal with synthetic marijuana?
Fentanyl, which we’ve written about before, is another synthetic drug. An opioid, it’s 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s often added to heroin to increase the potency of that drug. Synthetic opioids (fentanyl, primarily) are rapidly becoming more popular and more dangerous. They recently passed prescription opioids as the most common drug involved in overdose deaths in the United States; in 2010, they accounted for just 14 percent of opioid-related deaths. Semi-synthetic opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin are now being looked for in Washington Department of Transportation testing.
Dig deeper: What we all should know about Fentanyl
Overall, drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 Americans — nearly 200 per day — in 2017. Last year, overdoses killed more people than the highest year on record for car crashes, HIV or guns. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans younger than 50.
However, there is good news: In some parts of the U.S., the number of overdoses has begun to fall, possibly due to increases in awareness and in treatment for addiction.
With increases in drug use comes an increase in awareness, and numerous resources are available throughout Whatcom County and the Pacific Northwest for fighting addiction, from family interventions to inpatient rehab.
If you know someone who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, know that the problem is serious — but that there is hope.