Death Rate of Overdoses From Fentanyl in Louisiana Double the National Average
BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) - With the fentanyl epidemic still sweeping through communities throughout Louisiana and across the country, more and more resources are being poured in to combat the public's exposure to the dangerous drug.
But numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that Louisiana's rate of fatal overdoses from fentanyl far exceeds the rates of many states and sits at double the national average.
Over 2,400 Deaths in 2021
According to the CDC's data, Louisiana saw more than 2,400 in 2021, the most recent year of data the agency is sharing. The fatal overdose rate in Louisiana is 55.9, making it No. 3 in the nation.
According to the CDC, fatal overdosing from fentanyl has jumped nationwide in the last five years. What's more, it's tripled recently, with the death rate rising from 5.7 per 100,000 to 21.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021.
That's a significant jump and one that's making government agencies and policymakers nervous.
There have been some pretty major busts in Louisiana in recent months, but the problem does not seem to be getting better. Lawmakers in Washington D.C. have tried working on a solution, but have been unable to decide what a solution would look like.
What Makes Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has gained notoriety for its extreme potency and the inherent dangers associated with its use. Several factors contribute to what makes fentanyl so dangerous.
1. Potency: Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and significantly more potent than other opioids, such as heroin. A tiny amount of fentanyl can induce a powerful, rapid onset of effects, including profound analgesia and euphoria. However, this high potency also increases the risk of overdose, as it's challenging to accurately measure and administer.
2. Rapid Onset and Short Duration: Fentanyl acts quickly, producing a strong high that subsides rapidly. This rapid onset makes it easy for individuals to misjudge their tolerance levels, leading to accidental overdoses when they take more than they can handle.
3. Respiratory Depression: Like other opioids, fentanyl can depress the central nervous system, particularly the respiratory system. Overdoses often result in slowed or stopped breathing, which can be fatal within minutes.
4. Illicit Production: Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and its analogs have flooded the black market, contributing to the opioid epidemic. These drugs are often mixed with other substances, making it difficult for users to know the purity and potential lethality of what they are taking.
5. Difficulty in Reversal: While opioid overdoses can be reversed with naloxone (Narcan), fentanyl's potency may require larger or repeated doses of naloxone, which can delay intervention.
6. Addictive Potential: Fentanyl is highly addictive, leading to the development of physical and psychological dependence, making it hard for users to quit even when they are aware of the risks.
It's a problem with no easy solutions, and while we take our time trying to come up with any solutions whatsoever, more Americans are becoming hooked - with many losing their lives.
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