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Fentanyl, a Deadly Bate ad Switch Game

The United States Fentanyl Crisis

The opioid crisis in the United States has resulted in approximately 192 deaths per day. Oxycodone and heroin were not responsible for these deaths. The drug currently killing people is called fentanyl. Fatal drug overdoses significantly increased from 1999 through 2017 due to fentanyl. This drug is classified as a synthetic opioid between eighty and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl has been used for many years in anesthesia cocktails and cancer patches to relieve pain. During the fairly recent past, fentanyl has become a viral recreational drug. 

The Centers for Disease Control has recently issued a report stating fentanyl is involved in more fatal overdoses than any other drug throughout the United States. In 2016, nearly one-third of all fatalities involved fentanyl. There was an increase of approximately 113 percent of fatal overdoses between 2013 and 2016. A minimum of two-thirds of the deaths related to fentanyl involved a minimum of one additional drug. This is partially due to drug dealers lacing cocaine and heroin with fentanyl to increase potency while cutting costs. 

This means when an individual purchases opioids, they are receiving a deadly combination. Fentanyl was involved in two of every five overdose deaths related to cocaine. Almost one-third of all deaths resulting from fentanyl involved heroin as well. Fentanyl overdose has become an extreme legitimate danger. 

The Truth About Fentanyl

Fentanyl works just like other opioids. The drug binds to the brain’s opioid receptors. These receptors control both emotions and pain. As the individual continues to use fentanyl, the brain adapts. The effects of the drug are weakened which results in the individual using larger quantities. This often results in dependency. Due to the potency of the drug, fentanyl is used for the treatment of chronic pain or severe pain resulting from surgery. 

Although a prescription can be written for fentanyl, the most common drug overdose is linked to the fentanyl produced in underground laboratories, manufactured into pills created to look like another prescription, added to nasal sprays and eye droppers, and even just sold as a powder. Drug suppliers and dealers are literally killing people to increase their profits. Fentanyl has a lot of harmful effects and symptoms. This includes:

• Anxiety

• Heartbeat changes

• Shallow and slow breathing

• Drowsiness

• Depression

• Seizures

• Confusion

• Chest, back and stomach pain

• Dizziness

• Itching

Continually using or overusing fentanyl can result in fainting, respiratory complications, depression and ultimately overdose, resulting in complications. 

The Fentanyl Epidemic

The opioid crisis in America is now a fentanyl epidemic spiraling out of control. There is a fentanyl overdose occurring every day. There were painkillers containing fentanyl created using counterfeit prescriptions by a man in Utah. He became a drug kingpin by mailing this deadly drug to people all over the United States. He will be going to trial, along with a small group of individuals, regarding allegations of using the basement of his home to send hundreds of thousands of packages with pills containing fentanyl. 

Issues the federal government’s prosecutors will bring to light: the drug is being imported from China, it is poorly manufactured in to fake pills that are then sold and dispersed throughout every state via the online black market, sequentially killing tens of thousands of people by drug overdose The allegations of the prosecutors state dozens of customers died from a fentanyl overdose. Despite this, the charges for the ringleader include just one death: an individual 21 years of age who died after snorting what was believed to be prescription oxycodone but was laced with fentanyl. 

The ringleader began as a workout buff and aspiring entrepreneur. He said he did not realize the danger of his actions and was simply trying to make money. He never saw the people he was harming, just the numbers on his screen. At the time he was arrested, the bust was one of the biggest in the country’s history. According to documents from the court, the raid on his home revealed thousands of pills, a pill press in the basement and garbage bags containing in excess of $1 million in cash. 

The group began two years previously, eventually including over a dozen individuals. According to the allegations of the court documents, they met the ringleader while working at an eBay call center. The partnership began with two men. They started out by importing steroids, then reselling them to their friends from the gym. Another man pled guilty for assisting in the development of the recipe and pressing the pills laced with fentanyl. The fentanyl was shipped to several homes of the group’s members directly from China. The authorities stated the residents were then paid to turn over the drug. 

The powder was allegedly cut, fillers added and then pressed into pill form. According to the prosecutors, stamps and dyes were used to replicate the appearance of legitimate pills. Public health experts have issued warnings regarding the danger of small drug trafficking networks. Fentanyl is being cut and mixed despite the fact just a few flakes can be deadly. Due to the amateur equipment being used, one pill may only contain a small amount of fentanyl while another may have enough to cause immediate death.

According to the prosecutor, the pills being shipped were poison in disguise. Average people purchased these pills such as someone who became addicted due to an injury or surgery. The pills were sold at a dark-web marketplace on the internet called Pharma-Master. Reaching the dark web requires a special browser and is frequently used for dark activity. The dark-web also has user-friendly sites a lot like eBay and Amazon. The court documents stated Pharma-Master is one of the more prominent dealers often processing as many as fifty orders per day.

The pills were counted, vacuum-sealed and shipped to homes throughout the United States in envelopes. According to the prosecutors, the packages had phony return addresses and fake invoices. Mailboxes throughout Salt Lake City were used to drop the packages so the group could hide from the police. Some of the orders were smaller while others contained thousands of pills. The prosecutors stated these were sent to drug dealers and gang members who sold them on the streets. The cost of making each pill was less than one cent yet the prosecutors said they sold on the street for $20.

Preventing Deaths from Fentanyl

Preventable injuries and deaths such as fatal overdoses are often referred to as accidental. This implies these deaths are unable to be prevented. Overdoses can be prevented when the individual can easily access the help they require. The third highest cause of death in the United States are preventable injuries. As the government attempts to establish control of the opioid epidemic, new chemicals are being produced to subvert the law. Enforcement and strict regulations are not enough to eliminate the market for illicit drugs or prevent access. 

Regulations are being pursued to decrease the fentanyl being received in the United States through China. The increasing demand for these types of drugs must also be addressed to ensure a real impact. This means the people must be educated regarding the true dangers including possible overdose and death resulting from fentanyl. The reasons individuals started using these drugs are just as important. If these reasons are not addressed, the war on illegal drugs will never end. 

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Opiate Alternative

Ayahuasca Addiction

For those who may not be familiar with ayahuasca, it is a tea that contains DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine), a hallucinogenic compound. Ayahuasca is derived from the Quechua language and loosely translated means either vine of the soul or vine with a soul. When an individual consumes this tea, it can trigger either a mild sedating effect or lead to extreme hallucinations.

HOW DOES AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA AFFECT THE BRAIN?

One of the most important things to note when it comes to ayahuasca is that DMT, which is the primary active ingredient in the tea, is very similar to serotonin in terms of chemical structure. To further put this into context, we should first get a better understanding of how serotonin works in the body. Serotonin, which is found primarily in the brain, bowels, and blood platelets, is a chemical and neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and even sexual function.

Low serotonin levels can lead to depression and a host of other mental health disorders. That said, many physicians and psychiatrists will prescribe serotonin-boosting medications like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), for example, to help patients who are struggling with these symptoms. However, many people will also consume ayahuasca-based tea to achieve the same serotonin-boosting benefits.

According to some studies, the mind-altering effects of ayahuasca-based tea can be felt in as little as 30 minutes after an individual consumes it. The hallucinations, which can vary in intensity, can last anywhere from 1 to 6 hours and can be very similar to that of LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). In many cases, those who have consumed the tea will perceive certain sounds as being more intense than usual or may hear sounds that do not exist. 

While there are a variety of ways to consume ayahuasca-based herbs, many people prefer to consume it in tea form, which introduces small amounts of the mind-altering substance to the brain over a longer timeframe, resulting in a longer and more pleasurable high.

AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA AND ADDICTION

While ayahuasca-based tea is not physically addictive, it can trigger psychological cravings, which can be just as difficult for some people to overcome. That said, there is very little research available when it comes to the long-term psychological effects of consuming ayahuasca-based tea, and there is even less information available concerning the full extent that the tea has on one’s physical health when consumed long-term. The one thing that most addiction experts will agree on, however, is that the mild to moderate hallucinations associated with these teas in and of itself can lead to psychological dependence for some individuals.

AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA AS AN HERBAL OPIATE

Although the practice is not recommended or endorsed by the addiction treatment and recovery community, many individuals have turned to ayahuasca-based teas to help them overcome their addiction to prescription-based or street-level opioids. That said, those who choose to consume ayahuasca-based tea to overcome an opioid addiction are urged to proceed with caution. According to Dr. Gerald Thomas, director of alcohol and gambling policy with British Columbia’s Health Ministry, consuming ayahuasca-based tea may be beneficial for those seeking to end their addiction to opioids due to how it temporarily alters brain function.

In essence, the changes that take place in the brain once an individual consumes ayahuasca-based tea is similar to that of consuming methadone and suboxone, two of the most commonly prescribed opiate alternative medications, which are used to help individuals overcome severe withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid detox. Nonetheless, Dr. Thomas cautions that more research will be needed to determine the substance’s long-term effects as well as the overall efficacy before it can ever be recommended as an opiate alternative for those needing help ending their addiction to opioids.

SIDE EFFECTS OF AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA

Despite being extolled for its calming effects and other therapeutic benefits, there are some side effects associated with consuming ayahuasca-based tea. After all, the psychedelic tea is comprised of DMT, Banisteriopsis caapi (flowering vines), and Psychotria viridis (shrub leaves of the chacruna plant), all of which can trigger a mind-altering experience. Some of the more common physical side effects include

  • Agitation

  • Chest pain

  • Dehydration

  • Diarrhea

  • Dilated pupils

  • Dizziness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Seizures

  • Vomiting

Of course, the side effects do not end there as ayahuasca-based tea is also known to trigger a variety of psychological side effects as well, including hallucinations, anxiety, and extreme paranoia. Ironically, some individuals consume ayahuasca-based tea solely to achieve these psychological effects. These same individuals have equated these effects, which may be off-putting to most people, as a way of cleansing their mind and body. Whether these beliefs are misguided or based on tangible evidence is still up for debate, but many people believe they are simply par for the course when consuming these psychedelic teas.

WHY IS AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA GROWING IN POPULARITY?

Although ayahuasca-based tea has recently started making headlines in North America, it has been a mainstay in South American countries for decades and is often consumed during religious ceremonies among those seeking to benefit from its hallucinogenic properties, which they believe will trigger a spiritual awakening of some sort. In the United States, there are two churches that are known to use ayahuasca-based tea during religious ceremonies. These churches include the UDV church in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also the Santo Daime church in Oregon. Also, more people are turning to this psychedelic tea to help them overcome opioid addiction and as a way to cope with mental health disorders like depression and PTSD, for example.

HOW IS AYAHUASCA-BASED TEA MADE?

This new trend in ayahuasca-based tea has led to more people brewing the concoction in the privacy of their own homes, and the reasons for doing so can vary greatly from one person to the next. Some people are using it as an herbal opiate alternative to help ease opioid withdrawal symptoms while others are using it as a form of self-care to address a mental health disorder. Most people will take a traditional approach when it comes to brewing their own batch of this psychedelic tea, which entails the use of Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria Viridis. 

The Psychotria Viridis contains DMT, the most active ingredient, and Banisteriopsis caapi contains MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), which protects against stomach upset while the Psychotria Viridis is being absorbed and ultimately broken down in the stomach. The brewing process is not too dissimilar from brewing any other kind of tea. In essence, you will need to combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan, fill the pan with water, and allow the water to come to a boil. From there, carefully pour the combination into a cup using a tea strainer to catch the leaves and stems.

BOTTOM LINE

There are also many reports of people becoming psychologically addicted to these teas as well. If you’re thinking about trying ayahuasca-based tea as an herbal opiate to help with opioid cessation, to cope with a mental illness, or for any other reason, you’re strongly encouraged to speak with a physician before making your decision.