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Prescription drug deaths, fentanyl continues to rise in San Diego



Sandy Nolan does not know where the prescription pills come from or how she started.

But when she noticed the signs – the slipping notes, the distance from the family – her teenage son was already in the

Jerry, the same boy who scolded his grandparents for smoking and frowning, died at the age of 24 Years of an overdose of heroin.

"I never thought that would happen to my family," Nolan

That was in 2008.

Ten years on, the epidemic of prescription drug and opioid abuse is as serious as ever. As doctors write fewer prescriptions, consumers are turning to the illicit markets – many are seeing an even stronger form of the opioid fentanyl.

Last year, 273 people in the county died of overdose of prescription drugs ̵

1; 20 more than the year before – with the vast majority of deaths attributable to opioid medications, according to the province's annual Prescription Task Force Report card, released Friday ,

Fentanyl, one synthetic opioid up to 50 times more potent than heroin, claimed 84 lives – more than double the amount in 2016

The exploding fentanyl deaths show how the fight against opiate abuse continues to shift from prescription pads to the streets

Due to the high demand for painkillers, drug trafficking organizations seemingly sell blue oxycodone pills that are actually made with fentanyl in China

The demand for fentanyl shows I at the ports of entry along the California-Mexico border, which had captured 542 kilograms of the seized drug in 2017 – an increase of 143 percent over last year, according to Customs Border Patrol data.

The popularity of heroin in the past decade Years has gone by for the same reason that prescription opioid-dependent users are aiming for a cheaper, more accessible high, like Jerry did before his death.

The CBP seized 933 kilograms of heroin at California ports of entry, compared to 591 kilograms the year before. However, deaths from heroin overdose appear to have slowed to a high of 105 in 2014, with 86 deaths in the past year.

"Abuse of prescription drugs is a panic killer," district head Kristin Gaspar warned at a Friday press conference.

Yet, data suggest that some populations are at greater risk.

Men die almost twice as 2017. Men aged 25 to 34 had the highest risk, followed by 55 to 64. Women were at higher risk in the 55-64 age group

Also, whites made a disproportionate number of overdose deaths over the past year.

"It's important to remember that the numbers presented here are real people," explains Gaspar, "these are real people like Jerry and Sandy, which represents a devastating loss to family, friends and the entire community

The epidemic can not be fought on a single front, Gaspar noted.

The two dozen Realtors standing behind her in solidarity at the press conference that took place in front of the Kearny Mesa offices of the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS.

Why Realtors? Their open houses not only give prospective buyers an overview of homes to sell, but also offer drug users the opportunity to shoot through bathroom cabinets and steal prescription drugs. This is a big problem, says Steven Fraioli, president of the association.

He and Gaspar, law enforcement officials and other leaders of the community, called on San Diegans to get rid of prescription drugs to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Today, San Diegans will take part in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day National Drug Enforcement Administration can sell prescription drugs at 44 locations across the country – with no questions asked.

Realtors have taken a unique role in the fight against drug abuse by encouraging homeowners to secure their prescriptions as they would their valuables Open Houses The Safe Homes Coalition, a group dedicated to safe storage Using drugs in homes has provided thousands of bags for this task.

In April, the Realtors plan to work with the Coalition and others to educate homeowners securing their medicines. Among the materials that will be issued will be anonymous and pre-addressed, paid envelopes that will allow homeowners to send unused drugs to a DEA-approved disposal facility where the drugs are weighed and burned.

"There is no reason for someone to die for medication sitting unused in a medicine cabinet," said Scott Silverman, an Addiction Crisis Trainer and Executive Director / CEO of Safe Homes Coalition.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

What: Drop unwanted, expired medication safely and anonymously

Where: Find the nearest location at takebackday.dea.gov.

When: 10 to 14 o'clock today

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @kristinadavis


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