16 Oct A Deeper Look at Dangerous Counterfeit Street Drugs
When you pick up drugs on the street, you never know what exactly you’re getting yourself into.
October 27th, 2015 was another sleepless night for 29-year-old Tosh Ackerman. He just wanted some rest after a long day. Tosh took a Benadryl and a quarter of what was sold to him as a Xanax pill. He never woke up again. Toxicology reports in his autopsy showed he died from an overdose of fentanyl.
The Xanax he bought was a counterfeit pill laced with the deadly drug.
The often fatal results of fentanyl another life that night three years ago. It is a night Tosh’s mother, Carrie Luther, will never forget. She now works hard to ensure no other parent has to go through the pain she deals with every day.
Dangerous counterfeit street drugs continue making their way into the hands of people across the nation. The massive spike in fentanyl overdoses over the past few years shows no sign of slowing down.
72,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017. Fentanyl-laced substances, from heroin to counterfeit street drugs, were responsible for 30,000 of the cases. It caused nearly half of the deaths due to overdose in 2017.
Why People Turn to Street Drugs
Modern medicine seems to have a pill for every discomfort. This consumer culture applies a quick fix whenever possible. Prior to the widespread understanding of the addictiveness of painkillers, doctors freely prescribed them. You could leave dental procedures or outpatient surgeries with a doctor’s note for a hefty prescription in your hand.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quickly cut down on this practice. As the opioid crisis rocked the nation, they set up regulations to control the supply. Now doctors are rightfully more wary of handing out these addictive narcotics.
As the supply thinned out, though, counterfeit street drug makers stepped in to respond to the increasing demand. They receive shipments of fentanyl made in China through the mail and lace it into the substances they sell. The drug is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and often cutting it into other drugs increases their effects while keeping costs low.
“It Was an Accident”
Not everyone using these counterfeit pills are drug addicts, though, like in Tosh Ackerman’s case. Many experiment with drugs they have no way of accessing without a prescription. When you purchase pills from anywhere other than a pharmacy, there’s little way to guarantee whether they are real.
That same batch of fake Xanax that took Ackerman’s life claimed the life of another young man and hospitalized a third. And this is just one batch of the thousands dealt across the United States every day.
The Impact of Counterfeit Street Drugs on Addiction
This grim reality is even more real for those who struggle with drug addiction. Most addicts have no way to test the contents of the drugs they pick up. The inconsistencies between each batch almost guarantees a game of Russian roulette every time they get high.
No one deserves to deal with the pain that Carrie Luther lives with, or any other parent whose child died of an overdose. The FDA, DEA, and other organizations continue to fight against the overwhelming opioid crisis but there is more work to be done.