Pure Fentanyl is coming from places like Mexico and China, and marketed by drug dealers as cheaper and stronger than pure heroin. KLFY
Police in Lafayette are working to stem the tide of overdoses of Fentanyl, an opiate they say is cheaper and 50 times more potent than heroin.
Often cut into heroin to increase its potency, the opioid has been found in the bloodstreams of 13 overdose victims in Lafayette Parish this year, according to Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber.
Eight Fentanyl-related overdose deaths have been within the city of Lafayette.
“Eight is a lot,” Lafayette Police Chief Reginald Thomas said. “This is a major problem.”
Garber said Fentanyl contributed to three overdoses last year.
According to Cpl. Paul Mouton with LPD, Fentanyl can be ingested through the nose, shot up or absorbed by adhesive patch.
Kerri Cunningham, program director of Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, said they’ve seen an increase in people with heroin and Fentanyl addictions.
Centers like Victory work with clients to identify their needs and help them cope with living without drugs.
Because of the grip that Fentanyl and heroin can have on a client’s life, detoxing can prove to be a challenge, she said. Withdrawals from opioids could leave a person with a flu-like sickness.
“A lot of the time, especially with Fentanyl and heroin users, detox is very difficult,” she said. “Attempting to detox at home is extremely difficult.”
A batch of heroin that contained fentanyl killed around 13 people in Monroe County and the region in May 2015, the deadliest month for heroin/fentanyl overdoses last year. (June 7, 2016) Video by Sarah Taddeo
Symptoms of using can be erratic behavior, dramatic weight loss, irritability and tremors.
If you suspect someone you know is using, calling an addiction center to get them help could save their life, Cunningham said.
Pure Fentanyl is coming from places such as Mexico and China and marketed by drug dealers as cheaper and stronger than pure heroin, Garber said.
The spike in Lafayette comes at a time when, nationally, overdose rates from heroin and opioid-based pain relievers have never been higher.
The drug took hold in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 18,893 people had died from opioid overdoses and another 10,574 had died from heroin.
Fentanyl was linked to 5,554 deaths in both categories in 2014, according to the CDC.
Drug poisoning caused 47,055 deaths in the U.S.