IN Shaler Summer 2017 - Page 36

INDUSTRY INSIGHT OPIOID EPIDEMIC THE EPIDEMIC About five or six years ago, young people were dying more frequently. Calls came in from families to say someone was at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner facility. The death certificate would have the cause of death listed as “Pending.” After waiting 16 to 20 weeks for toxicology reports to be generated, the final certificate would arrive with a cause of death now stating “Accidental Overdose.” Usually a list of drugs and other medications would be listed. This epidemic is crossing neighbor- hoods, education, economics, race, sex and age. Addiction does not discrim- inate. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner (Dr. Karl Williams) “revealed that 613 people died from drugs last year, a jump of 44 percent over the prior year, largely due to fentanyl and heroin.” (Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Ga- zette, April 6, 2017) Shaler Township Chief of Police Bryan Kelly stated that there has been an up- tick in drug usage. “They migrate from prescription drugs to heroin after their 34 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE | Shaler SPONSORED CONTENT doctor refuses to refill pain prescriptions,” he says. “We even have had people come directly to the police station for Narcan.” Nar- can is a brand of naloxone, an opioid reversal drug. Current estimates are that there are 41 heroin deaths each day in the U.S. Heroin is so dangerous because it changes the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system. All opioid drugs and medications cause these changes. This is why heroin addiction is very difficult to treat. Another potentially lethal danger is that drug dealers use so many different things to “cut” the drugs in order to have more to sell. Health officials are alarmed by these dealers using fentanyl to cut heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid considered to be 30-50 times more potent than heroin. Caffeine, flour, chalk, talcum powder, sucrose, cleaning chemicals and powdered milk are also used. No one can determine what is in the heroin without a chemi- cal analysis. It also makes it impossible to know the strength of the heroin.