LUBBOCK, TX - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 33,091 people in America died from opioid related overdoses, a number that has increased by more than 50% since 2014. Health experts think the highly addictive synthetic opioid, fentanyl, contributed to a large number of the deaths.
In October of 2016, federal agents conducted a major drug bust of one of Lubbock's biggest illegal fentanyl rings, arresting three individuals.
Since then, local recovery centers not only in Lubbock but across the country have continued to see patients who are struggling with fentanyl addictions. Clinical Director of at The Ranch at Dove Tree, Karmen Adkins said they house nearly 60 clients in recovery and that nearly a third of them are there due to fentanyl and general opioid addictions.
"That's the dangerous thing with fentanyl, it's twice as strong as anything they've taken before and that's the reason it's so deadly because they are trying to get a bigger and better high and it kills sometimes unfortunately." said Adkins.
In the past few years Adkins said she has noticed a significant increase in clients who are struggling with opioid addiction, and she thinks there could be multiple reasons.
"I don't know if it's because of the local manufacturers or if it's because you can get it on the 'dark net' directly from China, but there has definitely been more of a presence."
Clinical Director, Jay Davis with Aspire Recovery Centers said they have seen similar numbers.
"Currently it will run from a third to half of the clients we treat and they will also be using drugs, it's not just one," Davis said.
The drug is said to be twice as powerful as morphine, and highly addictive. Davis said opioid recovery can be very challenging, and relapsing can be fatal.
"You don't generally see people die from the withdrawal piece, you see them die from overdosing and they experience respiratory arrest."
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