Here are a couple of interesting short pieces from the media on a coming change in the opioid epidemic:

First, speculation on a possible spread of fentanyl  from its base in the Eastern US to points West:

How America’s opioid epidemic could get even worse

Apparently there are differences in the type of heroin available in the West that make fentanyl less attractive as an additive. Might California et al be spared that sudden increase in overdose fatalities that goes hand in hand with fentanyl?

No such luck, I guess. Right on schedule, this appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Death, Made in Mexico: Traffickers Embrace Fentanyl

This is a familiar pattern: Drug cartels identify potential new market, as yet untapped; plug new product into existing distribution channels; sit back and enjoy new source of revenue. It’s Business 101, for illegal as well as legal enterprises.

Reminds me of the period that followed the death of basketball star Len Bias in the DC suburbs. That was a cocaine overdose in June 1986. He’d just been drafted by the Celtics the day before, and the sports world was understandably stunned.  Ironically, almost all the national media coverage was about the emergence of crack. As of then, crack had yet to arrive in the DC area. However, when Big Apple dealers realized they could get double for their wares in DC, they hopped on Amtrak for a short ride to increased profits.

Soon enough, we were admitting patients to treatment for crack. Including the indigent and homeless, previously unable to afford the more expensive powdered variety.

Not that the change wouldn’t have occurred without Bias’ death. It’s air rushing to fill a vacuum.  Where an opportunity exists, somebody always exploits it.

By the way, in our adopted home of New Mexico, we’re seeing a disturbing rise in OD deaths related to use of methamphetamine– a drug that’s always an issue in the land of Breaking Bad.

Fentanyl showing up on the streets in the meth supply? I wouldn’t bet against it.