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Guest column/Please keep in mind that one pill can be deadly

ALERT: The only safe pill is the one prescribed by your doctor and the pharmacy where you get your medications. There are people who would like you to believe otherwise, but here are a few words to the wise: One pill can kill.

The Drug Enforcement Agency last week warned that there is “an alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.”

This is a national crisis, an emergency.

Some 9.5 million of these fake pills have been seized from every state in the United States in unprecedented quantities already this year. Four out of 10 of the pills contain 2 milligrams of fentanyl, a deadly dose that fits in the tip of a pencil.

This is a half-trillion-dollar business, says the DEA. Chemicals are shipped from China to Mexico where the look-alike pills are mass produced, then carried over the southern border of the United States for sale. The pills are made to look like opioids (OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Xanax) and stimulants like Adderall.

“Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse in the United States, bringing overdose deaths and violence to American communities,” says the DEA. These predatory, criminal organizations have no regard for American lives.

At Family Recovery Center, generally speaking, “We are seeing this occurring,” says Amanda Kantaras, clinical supervisor at FRC, “and it is throwing a wrench into our clients’ journeys to recovery. They don’t know what they’re buying and putting into their bodies anymore and becoming addicted to a whole new substance that may not have been their drug of choice.”

She continued, “I even think the term ‘drug of choice’ is outdated with how substances are being laced these days. We rarely see drug screens positive for heroin anymore. And our clients think they are innocently buying Adderall, or some other stimulant pill, to stay awake, and they are really getting methamphetamine. And sometimes that methamphetamine psychosis doesn’t go away, adding to the complexity of what we’re dealing with.”

Social media has its part in this crisis. The DEA alert advises that the social media platforms know they are being used for trafficking. They track every piece of data, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram has stated. They are a part of the problem and need to step up.

“It happens every single day,” Milgram said. All anyone needs is a smart phone and could be done right there in your living room.

“The fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often are sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them widely available to anyone with a smart phone, including minors,” reports American Security Today at americansecuritytoday.com.

Parents need to have honest conversations with their children about this public health crisis.

“Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy, are illegal, dangerous and potentially lethal,” the DEA said.

For information about this national crisis, visit online at DEA.gov/onepill.

Family Recovery Center provides support for military personnel, veterans and their families, offering a wide range of comprehensive care options to address the needs for both mental health and addiction-related problems. The goal is to give back to those who have sacrificed so much of their lives by helping them to cope and readjust to civilian life. If you or a loved one is struggling, please contact us at (740) 283-4946.

For information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact FRC at 1010 N. Sixth St., Steubenville; by phone at (740) 283-4946; by e-mail at info@familyrecovery.org; or by visiting the website at familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board.

(Brownfield is a publicist at the Family Recovery Center.)

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