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Drug users going to new lengths to find illicit drugs during pandemic

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - The coronavirus pandemic sadly has led to an increase in substance abuse and overdoses.

But it’s where and how these drugs are getting into people’s hands nowadays that have recovery advocates concerned. People are going to new lengths to get their drug fix, which recovery advocates say will require new measures to stop it.

Bucinnazine is an illegal opioid analgesic compound similar to morphine that is not prescribed in the U.S. and it’s illegal. It was used in China in the 1980s to treat pain associated with cancer.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was notified of of an exposure to this illegal substance earlier this month, meaning it’s in the Mitten. It came from an all-too-common and growing source of illegal drugs.

“You can get it freely on the internet, and that’s the scary part is the internet is still one of our biggest drug dealers out there, because people can order all types of meds and illicits online,” said Aaron Rubio, who leads the United Community Addiction Network In Genesee County.

He said illegal drug dealing and purchasing online is nothing new. But it’s certainly a problem that’s been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Use is up and resourcefulness is up -- and when we can’t get out on the streets as much -- and some of that had some effect -- but we know that people using the internet from their phones, tablets, computers is definitely something that’s commonplace,” Rubio said.

Because drug users are always on the quest to find the next drug, the next high, the next hit or the next rush that will bring that highly desired sense of euphoria. Fentanyl is a good example.

“They start to mix it in Percocet pills, Vicodin and the pill pressers are now mixing it with all the pills that are being made and mixing it with heroin and cocaine, and that’s why the fentanyl overdoses are up,” Rubio said.

He believes that tackling this crisis head on from the streets to the internet to medicine cabinets across the state and country starts with everyone at home.

“We fight that fight with education and prevention and awareness at the younger levels and try and get the education to those out there that need it,” Rubio said.

Drug overdoses in the U.S. reached the highest levels on record during the coronavirus pandemic and experts believe opioids share much of the blame for that.

According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 87,000 Americans died from an overdose over the one-year period ending in September 2020. That’s a nearly 30% jump from the year before and the highest number since the CDC starting tracking those deaths in 1999.

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