Fentanyl, the scourge drug in the United States responsible for an explosion of overdoses, interferes in the vast majority of heroin products in New York, often without users knowing it.
More than 80% of drug users in New York take fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid behind a dramatic rise in fatal overdoses in the United States, but only 18% voluntarily, according to a study which points out the dangers of becoming addicted to this product.
Manufactured in the laboratory, at lower costs than heroin, fentanyl has flooded the American drug market for years and caused around 70,000 deaths by overdose in 2022 out of a total of 106,000 in the United States, a record.
Priority public health problem in the United States
The opioid crisis is one of the number one public health issues in the United States, and the U.S. Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized the non-prescription sale of an antidote to fentanyl overdoses, Narcan ( naloxone), to reverse this tendency.
However, if “the overwhelming majority of people questioned” in the study “said that heroin was their main drug”, they “seem to have few means of avoiding fentanyl”, explains its author, Courtney McKnight, Clinical Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at New York University School of Global Public Health.
Even more powerful than heroin
To achieve these results, his team conducted toxicological analyzes on a sample of 313 drug users, who all responded to a questionnaire at the same time, and 162 of whom responded to more in-depth interviews, between October 2021 and December 2022.
As a result, 83% of participants tested positive for fentanyl, with or without heroin. But “only 18% said they had recently used fentanyl intentionally,” add the results of the study, published Wednesday in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
For Courtney McKnight, the danger is an increased addiction to fentanyl, much more powerful than heroin, and therefore an increased risk of overdoses.
Fear of overdose
Fentanyl “is a demon”, but “heroin today is not really good, it’s shit”, explains Doug, a user quoted in the study. “If you know you’re taking fentanyl, you know you’re going to smell it. [et] that you are going to get high”.
“Almost everyone in our sample said they were worried about overdosing,” Courtney McKnight told AFP. According to their responses, nearly one in four users had overdosed at least once in the previous six months.
New York has seen the number of fatal drug overdoses skyrocket in recent years, from 942 in 2015 to 2,668 in 2021. The study authors recommend ways to expand naloxone use and access to substitution products, as well as support for supervised drug injection rooms, two of which opened in New York in 2021.
Source: BFM TV