Mississippi Attorney General warns of painkiller addictions
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 28, 2015
According to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration announced a warning last week about the number of overdose deaths caused by heroin laced with the prescription drug fentanyl.
According to an AG release, in order to make heroin more potent, some dealers lace it with fentanyl. A heroin addict who injects the same amount of unaltered heroin, as heroin laced with fentanyl can overdose and die.
According to authorities, fentanyl is a regulated narcotic utilized as part of anesthesia.
It is the most potent opioid available for medical treatment, the release states. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
“There were 154 drug overdose deaths reported to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in 2014. Of the total, eight involved fentanyl,” Owens said in the release.
Hood stated in the release he has witnessed Kentucky, Florida and other states attempt to put an end to prescription painkiller abuse.
“When painkiller addicts couldn’t get primarily opioid-based painkiller, they turned to heroin. The heroin overdose death rates climbed even higher because there is no standard for potency in the illegally manufactured drug market. I hope we can stop this threat before it gets a foothold in our state,” Hood said in the release.
According to Owens, the MBN had four fentanyl cases, with less than 200 dosage units among them. The cases involved transdermal patches, which costs $50 per patch on the black market.
“Because this drug is easily absorbed into the skin and can be accidentally inhaled as airborne powder, it is a serious threat to law enforcement officers involved in undercover operations,” Hood said in the release.
Due to the high cost and limited availability of certain narcotics, authorities said that opioid addicts will turn to other prescription drugs like Hydrocodone that offer similar effects.
“Even the most civic-minded persons can find themselves caught up in the addiction cycle after an accident and the use of certain prescription drugs,” Hood said in the release. I have seen veterans who were injured in Iraq get hooked on painkillers, such as Hydrocodone, to help kill the pain from their war injuries. When doctors stop prescribing the pills, some turn to heroin. I have known one this happened to and he died of a heroin overdose.”
According to Owens, in 2014, Mississippi’s prescription drug monitoring program showed physicians wrote more than two million prescriptions for Hydrocodone, with more than 100 million dosage units prescribed.
“Doctor shopping by pain pill addicts is a problem,” Hood said in the release. “The states of Kentucky and Florida passed legislation requiring that doctors must check the Prescription Drug Monitoring system before prescribing primarily opioid-based painkillers. This lets doctors know that whether the patient has had other doctors prescribe other medications during the same period. Our legislature has not yet seen fit to put that burden on our doctors. Most doctors and pharmacists now have immediate access to a fully functioning Prescription Drug Monitoring system.”
According to release, standard signs of prescription drug abuse include requesting frequent refills, visiting two or more doctors for additional prescriptions, mainly focusing on drug use over other activities and extreme and sudden changes in social activities and mood swings.