Galveston, we have a problem! Actually, Galveston County has a problem. In January 2023, Galveston County Daily News (GCDN) reported that in 2020 Galveston County had the second highest death rate by drug overdose in the state of Texas and fentanyl probably was a leading cause. In Galveston County, roughly 200 per 100,000 persons died. Orange County has the highest rate, with only 86,000 residents, and has a death rate of 315 deaths per 100,000.
Most adults have heard of fentanyl. Fentanyl is the new drug on the block and is a killer. It is made from chemicals that mainly come from China. Apparently, it is fairly easy to make, and most of the fentanyl in the US is made in Mexico. One of the scary things about fentanyl is it takes an incredibly small amount to kill you. A lethal dose of 2 milligrams of fentanyl takes up the same amount of space as 10 grains of salt. Another visual from GCDN’s article is the amount of fentanyl the same size as a packet of sweetener could kill 800 people.
Even scarier is that some are made into brightly colored pills which look like candy. It gets much more complicated than just saying “no”. This makes the need to have the talk about drugs happen early and more frequently. The negative facts about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs must be pointed out and explained. Facts are important. Examples of peer pressure on TV and real experiences need to be discussed. The pressure to experiment with these substances may come from family and friends, not necessarily the bad guys. It is also true that these addicting substances can temporarily soothe the pain of mental illness.
Fentanyl kills by stopping breathing. Naloxane reverses opioid overdose. Opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Naloxane can be given by injection or nasal spray while CPR is happening. Naloxane reverses the overdose and does no harm if the problem is not an overdose. If it is known that a family member is struggling with addiction naloxone should be nearby.
Addiction is real, and no one is immune to the body’s reaction to these chemicals and to the need to have more. Once addiction is recognized, it requires specialized treatment to help overcome the problem.
Old prescriptions left unsecured at home can be an easy source for someone thinking about unsafely using prescription medicine and pose a danger to pets and children. Each year there are approximately 60,000 ER visits and 450,000 calls to poison centers about children under 6 years who took someone else’s medication. Old prescriptions can be disposed of in a permanent drug disposal box. Such a box may be found in police departments, pharmacies (CVS, Randall’s) Fire Stations, and Hospitals. 116 Drug Disposal locations could be found within 100 miles of Galveston Island using safe.pharmacy/drug disposal/. In addition, the DEA has a National Take Back Day twice a year. The next Take Back Day is April 22, 2023.
Dr. Sally Robinson
Clinical Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics
Keeping Kids Healthy