We are living in a new world when it comes to opioid addiction. Heroin used to be the king, the primary threat to public health and public safety. The new world is one in which drugs that are 20 times more powerful than Fentanyl can be purchased discreetly on the dark corners of the internet, delivered right to your door, disguised as an old children's book and ready for immediate use. One of these new drugs is called Isotonitazene, short for: N,N-diethyl-2-(2-(4-isopropoxybenzyl)-5-nitro-1H-benzo[d]imidazol-1-yl)ethan-1-amine. It's safe to say that not only ordinary citizens but even experienced users and professionals haven't even heard of this drug. To make matters worse, this is just the start of the rabbit hole as all types of synthetic opioids are being discovered every year, every month, every week, and even every day.
In doing some research on this new wave of synthetic drugs we discovered a recent Vice article that dove into this topic. Black-market manufactures are creating these raw substances in underground laboratories in various parts of the globe, selling them through the supply chain, and eventually landing in the hands of low-level dealers living in your own neighborhood. The dealers then lace the substance with common drugs such as Caffeine, Benadryl, as well as other narcotics like Fentanyl, Heroin, or Xanax, often creating a deadly combination for the end-user. Once the cocktail is completed they are then "pressed" using pill-presses. These presses can mimic the look of popular pills such as OxyContin, Percocet, or Opana. Even here in the sequestered and beautiful Roaring Fork Valley, we are seeing these powerful synthetic opioids begin to flood the market. The reality is that synthetic opioids are here to stay and have essentially made any other opioid, like Heroin, obsolete in the underground drug market.
Experts in Law Enforcement and the Addiction Treatment Industry are all scrambling to better understand these substances, where they come from, how they are being used, and more specifically how to treat and prevent future use. This is truly America's greatest threat to public health and public safety. The CDC has reported that roughly 107,000 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2021, totaling a 50% increase within the last seven years. The CDC also recently stated that the number one cause of death among American citizens ages 18-45 is Fentanyl overdose. It is imperative that professionals in this space be adaptable in our care with clients. As the world of addiction changes, so must the treatment of it. The emergence of "concierge" and "peer-to-peer" recovery services are proving to be highly effective in treating this new wave of opioid addiction as it allows professionals on this side of the industry to think outside the box, be creative, and even more hands-on when combatting this crisis.