By now it is likely that every person in America has heard of the ongoing opioid epidemic. It has been a feature story on every news outlet with documentaries made about the crisis and there are support groups dedicated to opioid abuse on most social media platforms. There is one noticeable standout where things have gone from bad to worse, that is in Texas. In 2018, opioid-involved overdose deaths totaled 1,402. While other locales in the US have seen far worse, in recent years Texas has leapt to catch up. Likely because most of the drugs that find their way to the USA come across the Southern border with Mexico it stands to reason that the front line of that war is also one of the bloodiest in terms of lives destroyed.
Drug cartels are not the most standup, honest organizations by simple definition. They are driven by the desire for money and power and because these are criminal organizations there is no oversight and they do not answer to anyone or any agency. They use whatever they can to make the strongest, cheapest product which they in turn, sell at an exorbitant profit. These days that means cutting cocaine, heroin or other opioids and even methamphetamine with ingredients like fentanyl and carfentanil. It used to be that all heroin was produced in the Middle East, but the last decade has changed that with Mexico now being the largest producer of heroin found in the United States showing the cartels have diversified.
The Rise of Fentanyl
What exactly is causing these problems? For many, fentanyl is partially to blame for driving the crisis to these epidemic levels. It is a medication originally developed about seventy years ago to use for treating pain in terminal patients. However, Chinese scientists altered that formula to create the now-infamous fentanyl which is approximately 100 times stronger than heroin. Worse is the introduction of carfentanil which is up to 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Because both are manufactured in a lab, they require less time and effort than growing a crop of poppies so dealers and manufacturers are now cutting heroin with fentanyl or other ingredients. It is smaller and lighter than heroin so more can be smuggled which in turn increases a cartel’s profits but it is 100 times stronger than heroin and carfentanil is up to 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
When someone has developed a tolerance to a certain potency of heroin or other opioid, and they then purchase some that is cut with fentanyl, they are not prepared for the increased strength, which frequently results in an overdose. With the increasing frequency that these drugs are being cut with cheaper alternatives like fentanyl, a tremendous uptick in the number of opioid-related overdoses and deaths happens.
In addition to extremely potent substances like fentanyl, opioids may be cut with strychnine, a poison, or other toxic substances. Sometimes heroin is produced by street chemists who have no formal training and create a product that kills people, but because it is an illicit underground industry, catching and stopping those responsible can be difficult leading to more overdoses and deaths.
Although a major contributing factor to the opioid epidemic in Texas, cartels are not solely to blame, they are simply profiting from the rising market demand. Much more insidious were the actions of big pharma and the way these high-power painkiller products were originally marketed as ‘completely safe for use.’ The FDA recently sued numerous pharmaceutical companies over their marketing misrepresentation regarding the addictive nature of these medications and their lack of warnings. Many patients that were initially prescribed these medications quickly became addicted and once a doctor realized and cut the patient off from their supply, it was too late as the addiction had taken root. This is one reason so many people have sought out heroin or other illicit medications along with their inherent risks once their access to prescribed medications was cut.
The Opioid Epidemic in Texas
There are no signs the problem is lessening, in fact quite the opposite. The growing production of Mexican heroin and the cartels continuing pursuit of stronger and cheaper drugs is the driving force behind the opioid epidemic in Texas. There are no socioeconomic factors that determine who becomes addicted, in fact it is common to hear stories of soccer moms with an opiate habit or former star athletes being arrested for drug-related crimes. Anyone who gets injured and is prescribed an opiate painkiller is at risk and it is those medications used to treat an injury which caused the addiction. Kicking an opioid habit can be a very difficult and miserable experience which is why the recidivism rate among those opioid addicts remains high. It is far too common to see lives ruined because someone suffered an injury and even individuals who once hoped for a free ride to college, wind up spending those same years in treatment or incarcerated due to actions caused by the need to feed their addiction.
Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas
Having an addiction is not a sign of weakness, it is possible for anyone to fall victim to opioid abuse. The opioid crisis shows no signs of slowing down. If you or a loved one are suffering from opioid misuse or addiction, Casa Colina is committed to helping men and their families recover from the devastating effects of substance use disorder. Located just south of downtown Dallas on over 200 acres of rolling hills, our luxury facilities are a safe haven for those to find freedom from addiction.