NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses, according to a new Centers for Disease Control report.
“I don’t think you can talk about fentanyl unless we just talk about the heroin epidemic and what we call in the DEA the opioid epidemic,” said Brad Byerley.
Associate Special Agent-in-Charge Byerley says fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. He said it doesn’t take much fentanyl to kill.
“Just to put it in perspective how dangerous it is, I brought a visual here. I have a packet of salt, and if I was to sprinkle a few grains of salt right here, if this was fentanyl, this would be lethal,” Byerley said.
According to the CDC’s report, the rate of drug overdoes involving fentanyl skyrocketed by about 113 percent each year from 2013 to 2016. Fentanyl was involved in nearly 29 percent of all overdose deaths in 2016.
“A lot of people on the street call it the serial killer drug because there’s no discriminating. It doesn’t matter what color you are. It doesn’t matter what ethnic background you come from. This stuff is lethal and it’s potent,” Byerley said.
The study revealed most overdoses involved more than one drug. Byerley said fentanyl is often laced in all sorts of drugs, from opioid pills, cocaine, meth and heroin. Often times, the user has no idea.
“These drug trafficking organizations - they don’t have pill presses, and they will be pressing their own pills. For someone who’s addicted, they think they’re buying some oxycontin or oxycodone; however, some of this is laced with fentanyl,” Byerley said.
According to the CDC, drugs like fentanyl and heroin are the leading causes of unintentional overdoses. Byerley said it’s about educating the public, offering a warning to anyone who thinks about using drugs.
He also said his drive to spread the word is personal.
“I’ve had family members who have been addicted to prescription drugs, and I know had they gotten a hold of the wrong stuff laced with fentanyl, they wouldn’t be with us today. For me, it’s something that comes full circle, and I take it very serious,” Byerley said.