The 4th Wave of the Opioid Crisis is Not Receding

Article from The Guardian by Erin McCormick

The escalating crisis of fentanyl and methamphetamine use, while startlingly apparent in San Francisco, has wider implications across the United States and potentially, globally. The shift in the drug market towards synthetic substances due to their profitability and potency indicates an impending challenge for healthcare providers nationwide. The lack of FDA-approved treatments for meth dependence further exacerbates the situation.

Moreover, the increasing trend of mixed-drug use, particularly fentanyl and meth, adds complexity to the issue, making it harder for conventional approaches to be effective. The combination of these drugs could potentially magnify mental health issues and increase the risk of overdoses.

The situation also calls into question the efficacy of current drug policies and enforcement strategies, as seen in San Francisco's struggles. The rise in synthetic drug use could necessitate a reevaluation of these strategies at a national level, including a potential shift towards harm reduction approaches and addiction treatment expansion.

Lastly, this trend could also impact socio-economic factors such as workforce productivity, healthcare costs, and law enforcement resources, thereby underscoring the need for comprehensive and multi-faceted solutions.

Here are our key takeaways from the article:

Drug users are mixing methamphetamine with fentanyl to counteract the latter's side effects.

This trend is particularly prevalent in San Francisco, which is experiencing its deadliest year for drug overdoses.

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, is being distributed more widely due to its high profitability.

During the 12 months concluding in June 2023, the number of drug overdose fatalities reached 110,000, marking a 2.6% rise from the previous year.

Users often experience withdrawal symptoms and disrupted sleep patterns from fentanyl, leading them to consume methamphetamine.

The combination of meth and fentanyl raises complex issues for healthcare providers.

There are FDA-approved medicines such as buprenorphine for opioid addiction but no approved drugs to counter meth dependence.

Meth use is believed to increase the risk of severe mental health symptoms, including paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.

San Francisco city officials have declared a state of emergency, created supervised drug-use facilities, and increased police presence to combat the rising death toll.


San Francisco faces deadliest year for drug overdoses due to rise of fentanyl

By Erin McCormick on The Guardian

"San Francisco is facing its deadliest year ever for drug overdoses, a trend blamed on the surge of powerful synthetic fentanyl in the US's illicit drug supply.

In the first nine months of 2023, the northern California city saw 692 people die of overdoses, more than in the entire year of 2022, according to new data reported by the city's medical examiner. The city is on track to see more than 800 deaths this year, topping its highest year ever, 2020, when it saw 720."

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