“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

The new year started out on a tragic note in Horry County, with officials reporting on January 7th that there had been at least 10 opioid-related overdose deaths within the previous 8 days. The recent average for the county has been around 8 overdose deaths per month. Horry County officials recently confirmed that there were nearly 500 opioid-related overdose deaths (including both prescription painkillers and illicit opioids) from 2012 through 2017. In 2016, Horry County led the state of South Carolina in opioid-related overdose deaths. The opioid epidemic continues in our area and across the nation.

Fentanyl Surpasses Heroin as Primary Opioid in Overdose Deaths

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that Fentanyl is now the most common drug involved in opioid-related overdose deaths, overtaking heroin for the first time since the epidemic began. In 2016, there were 63,632 overdose deaths in the U.S. (the most current year data is available for). Officials are also reporting major spikes in cocaine-related and meth-related overdose deaths where fentanyl is a contributing factor. The majority of overdose deaths involve more than one drug, however fentanyl combined with stimulant drugs such as meth and cocaine are a newer development in the opioid crisis.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the DEA. The primary imports of this synthetic killer are coming into the U.S. from Mexico and China. Fentanyl was initially a prescription painkiller reserved for the worst cases of pain, such as people dying from cancer, often delivered in a patch placed on the skin or in an oral lozenge. The drug proved to be easy to make for illicit producers in other countries and began to flood into the illegal drug market in the U.S. around 2011 and 2012.

Experts state that what began as a prescription painkiller crisis caused, at least in part, by over-prescribing practices by medical doctors, then morphed into a heroin crisis and is now a fentanyl crisis. A crisis that is impacting an entire generation of children in our country.

Orphans of the Opioid Epidemic

The most tragic impact of the opioid epidemic is reflected in the increasing number of children orphaned when parents die from opioid-related overdoses. A study last year by Generations United, an advocacy organization for intergenerational families, found that 2.6 million American children are being raised by grandparents or relatives. This is approximately 3.5% of all children in the entire U.S. population. Foster care systems are struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of orphaned children, especially in the hardest-hit states of West Virginia, Ohio and Maine. Across the U.S., for every child transferred to the care of a relative within the foster system, there are at least 20 more children who are in the care of grandparents or relatives outside of the foster system.

If you suspect a child in your family is at risk due to a parent’s drug issues, Bulldog PI can help. We can assist in a number of ways to get the evidence needed to help non-custodial parents, grandparents and other family members protect their young loved one.