Leaders and addiction specialists urge for immediate action as fentanyl use spikes

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Fentanyl has grabbed the attention of leaders nationally and statewide.

Kentucky House Bill 353, which would decriminalize fentanyl testing strips and other testing tools, passed through the House as the need for action grows.

The CDC says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

“Fentanyl is not long acting in the body, but when you take fentanyl, often the dose is not measurable and people stop breathing and before somebody can figure out what’s going on, they’re dead,” Dr. Al J. Mooney, an addiction medicine physician, said.

The CDC says there are two types of fentanyl. One version of the drug is pharmaceutical and prescribed for severe pain.

The other is illicitly manufactured and distributed illegally. That version is often added to other drugs.

Addiction specialists have found people not knowing they consumed fentanyl until afterwards.

“Marijuana’s being laced with fentanyl. Meth is being laced with fentanyl. People think they are getting a pain pill and it’s actually a fentanyl tablet. So, some of the overdoses are completely unintentional from the standpoint that people using it don’t even know that they’re taking fentanyl,” Addiction Recovery Care CEO Tim Robinson said.

That is another reason the Perry County Fiscal Court is acting quick with opioid settlement funds.

While Perry County Jailer Minor Allen said people are not often arrested while addicted to fentanyl, it is often involved in worst case scenarios.

“Most of the time, it’s gonna be a disastrous situation to the point where that person’s not gonna recover from that. There’s no bringing them out of it. The one’s that do are extremely blessed and lucky to still be alive,” Minor Allen said.

The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy reported a 14.5% increase in overdose deaths statewide from 2020 to 2021. They said more than 70% of those involved fentanyl.

Addiction recovery specialists fear those numbers could only be increasing.