New reports document growing opioid overdose deaths as Mexican cartels flood the U.S. market with heroin and fentanyl. Novus Medical Detox Center examines the evolution of the current epidemic and solutions to the climbing death rate.
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla., February 6, 2017 – A new government report reveals that drug overdose deaths have continued to rise, with opioids alone killing 91 Americans each day,(1) while another report cites Mexico as “the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States” for its role in supplying those illicit substances.(2) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, believes the current epidemic may be an unintended consequence of legalized marijuana and advocates for expanded access to drug treatment programs as a key to the solution.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that drug-related overdose deaths increased 11.4% from 2014 to 2015, averaging 144 each day. The CDC attributes this growth primarily to synthetic opioids (including illicitly manufactured fentanyl) and heroin, for which the death rates climbed 72.2% and 20.6%, respectively. In 2015, heroin alone claimed nearly 13,000 lives.(1)
Some experts speculate that legalized cannabis may have inadvertently contributed to today’s heroin and fentanyl epidemic by replacing Mexico’s illegally imported marijuana with U.S.-produced crops, driving cartels to seek a new source of profits. An analysis published by Esquire notes the Sinaloa Cartel experienced a 40% drop in marijuana sales in a single year, losing billions of dollars; so the cartels increased production of heroin, making a purer product and selling it for less.(3)
A recent U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report shows that Mexico has steadily increased its share of the U.S. heroin market in recent years, and now accounts for 79% of all heroin seized and analyzed.(2) The DEA has also linked Mexico to the distribution of fentanyl, a drug that is “deadly to users” and “a grave threat to law enforcement officials and first responders”. Though China is believed to be the primary source of illicit fentanyl, the DEA reports that Mexican traffickers are mixing it with heroin or pressing it into counterfeit prescription opioid pills destined for the United States.(4)
“The sad truth is that millions of Americans are struggling with substance use disorders, and Mexican cartels are ruthlessly capitalizing on their plight for financial gain,” noted Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center. “When marijuana ceased to be a major profit center for traffickers, they cashed in on America’s opioid epidemic. Patients who developed opioid use disorders and found it increasingly difficult to obtain prescription medications amid the U.S. crackdown on pain clinics and overprescribing are now falling prey to Mexico’s fentanyl and heroin traffickers.”
Runyon emphasizes the dangers inherent to the growing dominance of Mexican cartels. Not only are they responsible for violence and killings in Mexico—such as the deaths of 43 students from a teachers college in Iguala (3)—but U.S.-based gangs pose a public safety threat by committing home invasions, kidnappings and murders on behalf of cartels.(2) Meanwhile, Americans who unwittingly purchase fentanyl-laced heroin or counterfeit pills are at risk of overdosing and dying.
“Fentanyl is lethal even in very small quantities, so the same doses that used to provide a high are now sending users to the hospital—or the morgue,” warns Runyon. “That’s why it’s critical to help those suffering from opioid use disorders get appropriate treatment. The debilitating side effects of opioid withdrawal keep many users trapped in a cycle of dependency. But by expanding access to detox, drug rehab and support programs, we can help those individuals overcome their reliance on opioids. Ultimately, reducing opioid consumption will not only save lives but also weaken the power and profitability of Mexico’s cartels—enabling America to win the war against illicit opioids.”
Novus offers medically supervised drug detox programs designed to minimize the discomfort of opiate/opioid withdrawal. The Florida detox facility provides individually customized treatment plans based on proven medical protocols, including 24-hour access to withdrawal specialists and nursing care. Novus is renowned for its expertise in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is proficient in detoxing patients from heroin, fentanyl and other opioids just as safely, comfortably and effectively.
For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its heroin and opioid treatment programs, visit www.novusdetox.com.
About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit http://novusdetox.com.
1. Rudd, Rose A.; Puja Seth; et al. “Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015”; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; December 30, 2016. cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm655051e1.htm
2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary; November 2016. dea.gov/resource-center/2016%20NDTA%20Summary.pdf
3. Winslow, Don. “El Chapo and the Secret History of the Heroin Crisis”; Esquire; August 9, 2016. esquire.com/news-politics/a46918/heroin-mexico-el-chapo-cartels-don-winslow/
4. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Counterfeit Prescription Pills Containing Fentanyls: A Global Threat; July 2016. dea.gov/docs/Counterfeit%20Prescription%20Pills.pdf
Karla Jo Helms
Phone: 888-202-4614 ext. 802