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Every day across the United States, news stories detailing horrific fentanyl-related deaths make headlines as the nation grapples with a drug crisis like no other. How did we get here?

Medical professionals began using opioids to treat chronic pain in the 1990s, which led to an increase in opioid use among people who didn’t need it, said Dr. Paul Christo said. , has been a pain doctor for about 20 years.

“As a pain specialist, we are often in the middle of treating … people who are on opioids, who develop the disease of addiction,” he said. “Part of that, we end up treating patients with the disease of … addiction — referring them to addiction medicine specialists, for example … trying to treat their pain. A lot of what we see now with opioid overdoses is a pain crisis. You know, the United There is an epidemic of chronic pain in the States, with a third of the population suffering from it.”

Fentanyl overdose deaths claiming thousands of American lives; What is behind the growth?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is lethal in low doses and is often found in recreational drugs, but some illegal drug manufacturers and cartels squeeze fentanyl into pills that look like prescription painkillers.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and poisonings last year due to synthetic opioid - or fentanyl - poisonings.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and poisonings last year due to synthetic opioid – or fentanyl – poisonings.
(Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA))

“It is important that the public…especially families, friends, parents and especially those classified as young people between the ages of 13 and 25 are aware of the dangers of personal synthetic fentanyl use,” Dr. Paul Christo, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and host of the “Aches and Gains” podcast, told Fox News Digital. “We’re not really talking about the fentanyl that we use for patients with chronic pain. I think that’s an important distinction.”

A Michigan official details the harrowing moment he collapsed from fentanyl exposure

Illegal fentanyl on the streets is “deadly because it’s so powerful,” he explained. The average person “doesn’t need to take so much that it can lead to breathing problems and death.” People should know that fentanyl can be found in drugs ranging from heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine to marijuana, Christo explained. Fentanyl test strips help eliminate the threat of fentanyl in those medications. In addition, Narcan — a drug used to treat narcotic overdose — protects those who take too much fentanyl.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses and poisonings caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl killed a record 107,000 Americans last year. An analysis of CDC data released in December 2021 by Fentanyl Aware Families Against Fentanyl found that illicit fentanyl poisoning was the No. 1 cause of death for American adults between the ages of 18 and 45 last year.

Fentanyl is lethal in small doses and is often found in recreational drugs, but some illegal drug manufacturers and cartels squeeze fentanyl into pills that look like prescription painkillers.

Fentanyl is lethal in small doses and is often found in recreational drugs, but some illegal drug manufacturers and cartels squeeze fentanyl into pills that look like prescription painkillers.
(Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA))

A February study from the Stanford-Lancet Commission on the North American Opioid Crisis estimated 1.2 million drug overdose deaths in the United States over the next 10 years, with the black community most negatively affected by the crisis.

A Virginia county has reported the presence of an opioid more deadly than fentanyl

Southern border seizures of the drug have increased in recent years. Customs and Border Protection seized 10,586 pounds of the drug in FY 2021. That’s up from 4,558 pounds seized in FY 2020 and 2,633 pounds seized in FY 2019.

While it’s unclear how much fentanyl enters the US, the number is only indicative of the drug’s fears, as the number of drug-related deaths continues to rise. The Drug Enforcement Administration It warned earlier this year of a “nationwide spike” in fentanyl-related overdoses.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
(Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA))

“There seems to be a lot of fentanyl being transported from Mexico across the United States. It can be made cheaply and it’s very dangerous to take small doses that can easily lead to death. So I think it’s important to start assembling a response in terms of what we can do to reduce the impact,” Christo said. More surveillance to ensure that drugs entering the country do not contain fentanyl at the border could help prevent the spread of opioids. United States.

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Those suffering from addiction should seek treatment. According to Christo, some cities have “public health services for substance abuse and misuse.” The American Psychological Association and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) websites have free resources for those interested in seeking treatment options in their areas.

If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse and addiction, contact SAMHSA’s national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.