San Diego is Overburdened with Fentanyl and the Toll is Devastating

san diego fentanyl burdened city

Fentanyl seizures at border continue to spike, according to the U.S. Department of Justice making San Diego a national epicenter for fentanyl trafficking. According to the DOJ release, more deadly fentanyl is being seized by border officials in San Diego and Imperial counties than at any of the nation’s 300-plus ports of entry, making this federal district an epicenter for fentanyl trafficking into the United States.

High Schools are Reporting Ever-Increasing Fentanyl Deaths

The San Diego Union Tribune reported recently about a California high school that made arrests after a student overdosed on fentanyl pills on campus during school. Notably the perpetrator used social media to market the pills.  Using social media channels (like Snapchat) to market fentanyl laced pills is increasingly common, especially among teens, and often with predictably tragic effects

Fentanyl is Hyper-Potent and Deadly

Researchers have sounded an alarm for the past few years about the rise in overdose deaths involving fentanyl. The majority of overdoses now involve the drug, which is 50-100 times as powerful as Morphine. Overdoses that involve fentanyl are usually deadlier because of the potency of the drug.

For people who have an opioid use disorder, there are many risks to take when buying drugs. Regular drug supply chains are strained, and China has outlawed the manufacture of oxycodone (aka Oxycontin) and fentanyl. Because of this, chemists that rely on illicit drug sales have been offering fentanyl either as an adulterant or alternative to other opioids. Chinese drugmakers funnel fentanyl through the Mexico border, and from there, it makes its way into heroin, Oxy, and other street (and internet) drug dealers.

FENTANYL OVERDOSES ARE GETTING YOUNGER

Roneet Lev, an emergency room physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California, told Bloomberg that most of the overdose deaths she’s seen in teens are accidental overdoses. One of her young patients, 14 years old, died from a fentanyl overdose.

“The problem is both supply and demand,” she said. “There’s already a lot of fentanyl coming into our market, and now we have a pandemic where people are isolated and not working, or not in school. These teenagers probably don’t have a substance use disorder, they’re experimenting, making a bad choice, and they end up dead.”

EDUCATION AND PREVENTION EFFORTS

Many cities and nonprofits say that harm reduction is an integral part of tackling the opioid epidemic. After all, many of the young people who are dying don’t even mean to take fentanyl. They often believe they’re taking a pill such as Percocet, Adderall, Ecstacy, etc. It may be the first time they have ever taken a drug at all.

Many law enforcement agencies are trying to get the word out about counterfeit pills and the dangers of fentanyl.

Some nonprofits offer fentanyl testing strips as a harm reduction measure that can test drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Then, the user can decide if they want to take it or flush it. Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, is also available to people who use opioids and other concerned community members. Carrying this drug can help reverse fatal overdoses, but when it’s a drug like fentanyl, reversal may require multiple doses of Narcan.

STAYING SOBER IN SOBER HOUSING

If you or somebody you love needs a safe living space to continue their recovery journey, sober housing may be the answer. We have an excellent, enthusiastic, peaceful environment where you can learn to live life on its terms, substance-free. Call us to learn more about our programs at 760-216-2077. Our treatment team is also very familiar with recovery from fentanyl and other opioids.

Young people in San Diego County, like around the US, have a problem with fentanyl. They’re not using it on purpose but instead are experimenting with drugs that somehow contain it. This is one reason younger people, including teenagers, are now dying at record numbers from overdose deaths.

Fentanyl is a drug typically used for people in severe pain, such as stage 4 cancer. It is also used as a sedative for surgeries. According to the CDC, the drug itself is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.

And now America has a fentanyl problem – not large amounts of people addicted to it, but large amounts of people dying after accidentally using it.

Fentanyl Overdoses Are Getting Younger

Roneet Lev, an emergency room physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California, told Bloomberg that most of the overdose deaths she’s seen in teens are accidental overdoses. One of her young patients, 14 years old, died from a fentanyl overdose.

“The problem is both supply and demand,” she said. “There’s already a lot of fentanyl coming into our market, and now we have a pandemic where people are isolated and not working, or not in school. These teenagers probably don’t have a substance use disorder, they’re experimenting, making a bad choice, and they end up dead.”

Education And Prevention Efforts

Many cities and nonprofits say that harm reduction is an integral part of tackling the opioid epidemic. After all, many of the young people who are dying don’t even mean to take fentanyl. They often believe they’re taking a pill such as Percocet, Adderall, Ecstacy, etc. It may be the first time they have ever taken a drug at all.

Many law enforcement agencies are trying to get the word out about counterfeit pills and the dangers of fentanyl.

Some nonprofits offer fentanyl testing strips as a harm reduction measure that can test drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Then, the user can decide if they want to take it or flush it. Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, is also available to people who use opioids and other concerned community members. Carrying this drug can help reverse fatal overdoses, but when it’s a drug like fentanyl, reversal may require multiple doses of Narcan.

Staying Sober in Sober Housing

If you or somebody you love needs a safe living space to continue their recovery journey, sober housing may be the answer. We have an excellent, enthusiastic, peaceful environment where you can learn to live life on its terms, substance-free. Call us to learn more about our programs at 760-216-2077.

The addiction crisis is raging in San Diego during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many parts of the country, addiction rates have seen an uptick due to isolation and other stressors of the pandemic. San Diego has lost an average of three people a day to overdoses.

In 2020, the County reported 457 fentanyl-related overdose deaths, but not all opioid deaths are from fentanyl, and not all opioid deaths have yet been counted. A total of 722 meth users were lost to an overdose last year, up from 546 the previous year. A large number of prescription drug users – 576 – were lost to overdose as well.

All of these numbers are startling. In recovery, there have been many anecdotes of people with long-term sobriety relapsing. Relapse doesn't have to be a part of your story, even if you're struggling. And even if you DO relapse, you are welcome back to recovery with open arms.

Staying Supported During the Pandemic

Of course, life has been difficult for people of all walks of life during the pandemic. And for most of us, it’s not over. People who live with addiction especially need support during these times. Staying connected to other people in recovery can help you stay sober and sane.

San Diego offers many opportunities for recovery for those who embrace them. 12-step meetings, therapy online, and even peer support groups are incredibly valuable for people in recovery.

Lifesaving Services in San Diego For Drug Users

The Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego County is one example of an organization that uses state grant money to help reduce the harmful dangers of addiction. They offer needle exchange services and the opioid-reversal drug, Narcan, to drug users to help them stay safe.

Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego also offers fentanyl test strips, wound care, education, and referrals for healthcare.

Sober Living Opportunities for Newly Sober

Are you a recovering addict or alcohol looking for a sober living situation that offers recovery and stability? Sober living situations offer structure and independence as you learn to live life on its terms, without substances.

Living with others who have the same goals and similar challenges can help you continue to grow in recovery. Structured support will help you stay centered. You’ll also find community and camaraderie in daily living activities such as cooking, doing chores, or even taking time together to go bike riding or strolling on the beach.

Many people who are looking for aftercare choose sober living as their next step.

Learn more about sober living opportunities by giving us a call at 760-216-2077.

- By Philip, Milgram, MD

Worry, fear, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, escapism, insomnia; these are the emotions that plague our society. The plague that is COVID is making these human imperfections more frequent and more pronounced. There are healthy effective ways we can not only deal with these feelings and situations. But it is human tendency to take an immediate and effective way to escape: The Devil’s Drugs. They are readily (too readily) available. There is easy access to someone who can promise you the gates of heaven. You are invincible. And you want it now. From a friend or family member who has some. Or from a prescriber who will prescribe, sometimes inadvertently but often as a legitimate dealer. Hey, maybe it‘s even covered by your insurance. Maybe you know somebody who knows someone who can get it for you in a park or a parking lot. Trust me. You are not invincible. These are not your grandparent’s drugs. These synthetic drugs have a high addiction potential. I don’t think they should have ever been released to the public, like Quaaludes. You give these drugs to a thousand white mice…and a thousand whit mice will be pushing that button for more. Physiologically, we are not dissimilar from a white mouse. They use these same white mice to test the drugs and extrapolate to human consumption. WE WANT MORE OF THAT!!

These drugs cause what is known as hyperalgesia. Let’s say you stroke the hairs on your arm with a feather. These drugs make a stimulus that would be a tickle or an unpleasurable event and convert it to pain. What do you do? I WANT MORE OF THAT!!

Then you develop tolerance to the drug. Until you rapidly, sometimes within days, need more to get you to that place where you want to be. And you then know. I NEED MORE OF THAT!!

We have been very successful treating alcoholism and drug addiction to heroin, opiates with our innovative and experienced team and the magical molecule of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), which detoxifies and fixes your brain, relieving withdrawal symptoms and cravings with much greater regularity than your neighborhood rehab center. But these are The Devil’s Drugs. And they require an all out and effective therapeutic approach to avoid the gates of hell; loss of you job, your family, your money, your home. And finally you lose yourself and then you lose hope. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonipen, Ativan, Ambien and the sort) are not a good solution. You solve a problem by creating another problem. But prescribers too readily whip out their prescription pads to give you a stopgap that may be as bad or worse than the original problem. Please don’t take Kratom either. Often the addiction to Kratom is worse than heroin. Unfortunately, it is readily available and touted as “natural”. When you are addicted to Kratom, you may be suffering such terrible withdrawals that you have to use through the night every two hours.

The best way to avoid this whole situation is to not allow these drugs into your body. Avoid them all-knowingly because I have here told you of their power, their danger, and the high percentage for your physiologic tendency as a normal human being to succumb to the power of these drugs. But it is human tendency to think you are different, stronger, better, even invincible. I WANT TO FEEL IT, NOW!!

We have an alternative therapy here in Carlsbad, with the magic molecule (NAD+) that is already present in every living animal and plant cell. And that the body naturally uses to detoxify, heal, pump up immunity, and create new neural pathways that results in less cravings, less withdrawal symptoms and a high degree of long-lasting sobriety, health, longevity and wellness. We help restore restful sleep, use additional therapies, and get you on the road to a new life free from the influence of these drugs.

NAD+ is the magic. There is an art to the administration of it—starting with the best NAD+. Then there are therapies that enhance and propagate the NAD+ effect. Then, once off the drugs, you need to deal with the emotional, physical, depression, anxiety, any underlying mental disease, situation, and establish an ongoing program of healthy nurturing lifestyle.

There is such a thing as recovery, let us show you.

Phillip Milgram MD

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