broadwaytreatmentcenter-fentanyl-epidemic-in-orange-county-photo-of-a-book-with-fentanyl-and-test-tubes“The threat this extremely potent drug poses to our community is increasing exponentially, not subsiding,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement.

In an operation on 10/30/2019, 18 pounds of the synthetic opioid pain reliever Fentanyl were confiscated in Santa Ana, California. This amount of fentanyl has a street value of roughly $1.25 million.

“18 pounds of this powerful drug contains more than 4 million fatal doses, enough to overdose every person who resides in the County of Orange,” Sheriff officials said.

That is almost half the total amount of Fentanyl seized in Orange County during the entire year of 2018. In addition to the Fentanyl, other items seized in the raid include five pounds of heroin, half a pound of methamphetamine and a loaded semiautomatic handgun.

Seizures in O.C. set to double for third year in a row, O.C. sheriff says 

After this major operation, the sheriff’s department says the amount of fentanyl seized in Orange County this year is set to double for the third year in a row.

Barnes also said that “Until we categorically include enhancements for trafficking fentanyl and make its penalties similar to other illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, we are enticing and encouraging drug traffickers to increase the supply of fentanyl in California at the expense of children and families in our community.”

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Fentanyl Use and Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is chemically similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. In addition, Fentanyl is  sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.

However, because it is cheap, powerful, and relatively easy to manufacture, Fentanyl has been a major and increasing source of opioid abuse in recent years.

Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to the NIH in 2017 59 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3 percent in 2010.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that over 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids were recorded in the United States in 2017.

According to the California Health Department, overdose deaths related to fentanyl in Orange County have skyrocketed from 14 in 2014 to 93 in 2018. The recent increase follows a long-term trend for the state, from 104 deaths in 2014 to 743 in 2018.

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