Harmony Place, a treatment facility in Woodland Hills, California for those with mental health and addiction challenges, is a warning to recreational drug users that even if they are not seeking out fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid is being laced in a wide range of other substances like ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, tranq, etc.
The warning is being issued given recent statistics that the U.S. is experiencing a fentanyl epidemic that is now claiming the lives of some 200 Americans each day.
According to David Cohen, LCSW at Harmony Place, a treatment facility in Woodland Hills, California for those with mental health and addiction challenges, this little known fact is greatly contributing to the nation’s deadly game of Russian Roulette.
“We need to increase public awareness that fentanyl is being laced in commonly consumed drugs and it’s for this reason that we are seeing a dramatic rise in fatalities. Many of our clients who just barely survived their overdoes had no idea that they had even taken fentanyl,” says Cohen, who explains that even small amounts of the drug can quickly result in death. “Illicit drug manufacturers and dealers are increasingly mixing fentanyl with other substances because it is inexpensive to produce, only small doses are needed to produce a high desired by unwitting users and it can be transported easily since only small quantities are required. Even though the last thing the drug trade wants to do is kill off their market, they nonetheless will lace the more expensive drugs with the relatively cheap fentanyl to increase profits.”
Cohen says that the key to curtailing this epidemic is not through mass incarceration of users and local drug dealers — a knee-jerk solution being promoted by politicians in several states — but through public education and stopping the flow of fentanyl into the country.”
“I’m afraid that we’re falling back on the failed policies of the 1980s’ ‘war on drugs’ and that many politicians are unaware that doing so not only won’t solve the problem but might even aggravate it,” says Cohen. “If some of the draconian laws being proposed actually get enacted, you will see a decline in the number of people willing to report overdoses because they are afraid of landing in legal hot water. Those with drug problems need treatment, not jail time.”
Cohen says a number of states are introducing stricter drug laws including Virginia, which is proposing classifying fentanyl as a “weapon of terrorism” and Tennessee where a teenager was charged with two counts of second degree murder after she and friends took fentanyl-laced cocaine and she was the lone survivor. Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna says his goal is that those “distributing this poison” be charged with murder if the user dies.
“We all want this epidemic to end and lives be saved,” says Cohen, who reveals that nearly 38 million American kids 12+ use illegal drugs and have done so within the last 30 days. “It’s important that we approach the fentanyl problem by increasing public awareness of its ubiquity by being laced with other substances. Harsh legal consequences are not the answer, education is.”
Harmony Place is located at 23041 Hatteras St, Woodland Hills, CA. Visit www.harmonyplace.com for more information or call (888) 416-2046.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Florida Times Daily journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.