The Carfentanil Epidemic

Overdose deaths attributed to the use of carfentanil are spiking across the country, and in Palm Beach County alone, 87 deaths have already been attributed to the drug in just a three-month span. Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin. It is widely reported that the drug is made in laboratories in China where it is then shipped to the United States and distributed throughout the country. While China has banned all exports of carfentanil, it has so far been impossible to stop the drug from flooding into the country.

“Carfentanil is surfacing in more and more communities,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous.  Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you. I hope our first responders. and the public will read and heed our health and safety warning. These men and women have remarkably difficult jobs and we need them to be well and healthy.”

While local, state and national agencies struggle to contain the spread of carfentanil, addiction treatment facilities see the effects of drugs like carfentanil on a daily basis.

“Treating our patient’s as individuals has never been so crucial,” says Dr. Tammy Malloy, Chief Clinical Officer at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches. “The epidemic we are up against with the Carfentanil has demanded that we take a look at not only how well we educate our own patients and families but also how well we educate our communities.”

“Although there is not a one size fits all approach to combating what we are now facing, we take an integrated approach to treating our patients by combining medically assisted treatment such as anti-craving medication and opiate blockers as well as therapeutic and holistic services. We also train and educate our staff, take part in community initiatives, and facilitate research that allows us to be preventive instead of reactive.”

WHAT IS NALTREXONE?

Naltrexone is an FDA approved medication for patient’s who have been diagnosed with opiate use disorder and it has been used to combat the effects of carfentanil.

Naltrexone is an “opiate blocker” which prevents illicit opioids from binding to the opioid receptor so that the user is unable to experience the effects of the drug. More importantly, this medication has the ability to prevent an accidental overdose which could lead to death. The medication comes in two forms, an oral tablet and an extended released injection ( which lasts for up to 28 days).

IS NALTREXONE RIGHT FOR YOU?

In abstinence-based treatment, patients are typically given medication to help manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. This typically occurs over a period of several days with a tapering dose of Suboxone. Once this medication is completed, no further opiate-based medications are prescribed. Over time there are changes in the brain that result in the user developing decreased tolerance to opiates.

This result’s in the user being at an increased risk for overdose/death should he or she suffer a reoccurrence on opioids. This has become an even bigger concern with the advent of very potent synthetic opiates, such as carfentanil.

Naltrexone is considered a very safe medication; however, there are a few instances in which the medication is not appropriate, or should be used with caution. There has never been one documented drug allergy, however as with any medication, there have been reported side effects ( i.e. headaches, upset stomach, nausea, etc).

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THOSE USING NALTREXONE  SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO USE HEAVY DOSE ILLICIT OPIATES WHILE ON NALTREXONE IN AN ATTEMPT TO OVERCOME THE PROTECTIVE BENEFITS. THIS MAY RESULT IN OVERDOSE AND DEATH.

There is no medication that will “cure” your addiction. Naltrexone is recommended in conjunction with a multidisciplinary approach which should include counseling and support groups such as 12-step recovery.

The medical and clinical team at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches recommend MAT (medication-assisted treatment). We encourage prospective patients and families to research which intervention is right for you or your family. Our team is always willing to discuss this information, in detail, at the time of your visit.

A HOPEFUL OUTLOOK

For over 20 years, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches has been at the forefront of the battle against addiction. We hope that our efforts to educate the public, in combination with world-class addiction treatment, will help to combat the overdose epidemic that is plaguing our country. At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we have already helped countless individuals find lifelong sobriety for even the most severe cases of addiction and we are prepared to help countless more.

CONTACT

For more information on carfentanil, treatment programs or any issue related to addiction, please contact us at (844) 381-8671 or visit www.bhpalmbeah.com.

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