While officials have collected "rainbow fentanyl" in the Pacific Northwest and other areas of the country, the substance has yet to be discovered in Washington, according to authorities, despite the ongoing nationwide opioid crisis.
But it's only a matter of time before the colourful pills show up here, if they haven't already, given that law enforcement officials have seized them in 18 states, including Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho, according to the acting special agent in charge of the US Drug Enforcement Administration's Seattle division.
Fentanyl is available in a variety of colours as tablets, powders, chunks, or blocks that resemble street chalk. Officials suspect the colourful narcotic, which is every bit as lethal as the fentanyl found in blue tablets here, is designed to appeal to youngsters.
The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels have been linked to the multicolored fentanyl. Fentanyl is used to increase the addictive component in many drugs since it is 50% more addictive than heroin and 100 times more addictive than morphine. Cartels made a calculated decision to introduce the colorful drug, knowing the pills will increase demand as they look for ways to market drugs to different groups of people.
In Washington, fatal overdoses from synthetic opioids like fentanyl more than quadrupled from the previous year in 2020. State health officials recorded 337 synthetic opioid-related fatalities in 2019, 672 in 2020, and 1,214 in 2021.
According to an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding substance use disorders have led to the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in an increase in deadly overdoses worldwide. Economic deprivation and societal circumstances, he added, have also played significant roles.
People use drugs as an escape, he says, noting that children aren't given resources to deal with pain or stress in a healthy way, and society has normalized alcohol and smoking as ways to cope.
According to the epidemiologist, the altered brain chemistry of people with substance use disorders leads to compulsive drug usage withdrawals and psychological alterations such as cravings.
He even stated that because fentanyl is so inexpensive and short-acting, users quickly acquire a tolerance and increase their usage, increasing the dangers of addiction and overdose. While rainbow fentanyl has not yet been identified in Washington, communities should insist that their leaders provide vital assistance and take a humanitarian approach to aid people with substance use disorders.