Fentanyl Changed the Opioid Epidemic. Now It’s Getting Worse

Fentanyl is also reducing the need for opium crops, refining, drug mules, and smuggling……


He’s contracted hepatitis — twice. He’s seen bodies thrown out windows. Just last year, someone threw him onto the subway tracks and split his head open. He grew in the hardcore scene as a punk and a skinhead — plainly, Parilla is robust, and doesn’t easily flinch.

But even a guy like Parilla has been caught off guard by the influx of fentanyl.

“Dope is cut so many different ways now that you don’t know what the fuck is in it,” says Parilla. “And with fentanyl, you can’t really tell until you shoot it.” While an occasional overdose is par the course, Parilla says, this fentanyl thing is totally different. “It’s killing a lot more people in the last two years,” Parilla says. “Actually I tried to figure it out last night and I lost count at 27.”

Perhaps because of this steep death rate, Parilla takes as much precaution as a needle user can.

He carries naloxone — the overdose reversal drug, also commonly known by the brand name Narcan — and he’s had to use it on a number of fellow users. The responsibility falls on him because often he’s the only one who carries it. And he’s usually the most experienced in the room.

“If I’m in a room with 25 people, all junkies, I’m gonna feel responsible. I’m gonna be looking around and it fucks with my head. Who wants to see somebody maybe die?”

For a while, he was carrying around Fentanyl testing strips, which let you test your drugs for any trace of Fentanyl. His old needle exchange provided them for free. But the new exchange he goes to doesn’t give them out.

Those strips are one of the very few ways for a drug user has to know if he’s got a potentially deadly mix. It’s one of the few ways they can keep from becoming another statistic.

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