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Fentanyl: A Public Health Threat in North Carolina
Late last month, North Carolina authorities arrested a young woman with enough fentanyl to kill a million people. Police say that 24-year-old Karen Garcia Euceda, of Winston-Salem, was driving with two kilograms of the potent drug, which is at least 50 times as powerful as morphine. Her daughter was strapped in the back seat at the time.
The seizure is one of dozens in the past year in North Carolina, showing the demand and supply of fentanyl in the state are flowing free from criminal enterprises.
Fentanyl: A Huge Danger in the US
While the seizure in North Carolina was significant, it’s not the largest fentanyl seizure in the state. Last February, another traffic stop yielded nine pounds of fentanyl, dozens of weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
In the US, fentanyl has quickly become a dominant opioid drug on the streets. Cartels traffic it from Mexico, and other dealers import it from China, where there are loose pharmaceutical regulations. Fentanyl is often an adulterant in other drugs, leading to an overdose in inexperienced opioid users. It has also been found added to cocaine in some jurisdictions, which has caused fatal overdoses.
Fentanyl in North Carolina
In 2019, nearly five people in North Carolina lost their lives to opioid overdoses in 2019. Not all the numbers have been revealed yet, but nationwide the pandemic has had a devastating effect on people with substance use disorders. The pandemic caused a sobering uptick in overdose deaths. Addiction doesn’t shut down even when the country does. Because of this, many people now need access to treatment.
In Wake County, opioids like fentanyl caused a 31% uptick in overdose deaths in 2020. Now that things are opening up again, harm reduction specialists have begun handing out the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. Keeping people alive, harm reduction proponents say, helps give them another chance to decide to get sober.
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