U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents recently arrested the CEO and founder of a drug rehabilitation center in Pennsylvania on charges of selling heroin and fentanyl to its recovering patients. According to federal investigating authorities, 65-year-old David Francis distributed drugs to the clients in his center the Next Step Foundation and outside, especially in the McKees Rocks borough adjoining Pittsburgh.
The officials said instead of providing recovery support and professional medical intervention to people addicted to drugs and alcoholics, Francis had become their drug supplier, media reports said. On Oct.6, 2017, authorities raided Francis’ home and the rehab center, confiscating at least five bricks of fentanyl.
A series of tip-offs from anonymous informants about heroin and fentanyl overdose over two months helped detectives to document the drug-related activities in the rehab and the McKees Rocks neighborhood. Francis reportedly would receive 80 to 100 bricks of heroin and fentanyl on a monthly basis to be sold to patients in the rehab facility.
During summer, DEA agents interrogated people who were associated with Francis. They said that he stashed large amounts of heroin and fentanyl at his residence on Chartiers Avenue. In May 2017, investigators had discovered that a man who purchased drugs from Francis succumbed to a fentanyl overdose.
According to a DEA report, in 2016, some 52 percent drug overdose victims in Pennsylvania were reported to have died of fentanyl use. This suggests a 130 percent surge compared to 2015.
Heroin abuse common in the US
As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. had 404,000 heroin users in 2002, a number that rose by 135 percent to 948,000 in 2016. Most strikingly, the numbers of deadly heroin overdose cases shot from 2,089 in 2002 to 13,219 in 2016, reflecting a whopping 533 percent spike. Dealing with the dangers of addiction can be a daunting task, given that heroin users experience uncontrollable drug cravings despite being aware of its detrimental effects.
In a society that is already weighed down by the opioid epidemic, a sweeping heroin addiction is just like rubbing salt into its wounds. Heroin is an illegal opioid, which is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. A heroin overdose should never be downplayed as it can slow down the respiratory system, which could lead to dangerous consequences.
People who have misused prescription opioids in the past are vulnerable to heroin abuse, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both heroin and prescription opioids have identical chemical structures and euphoria-inducing properties, which make the former a perfect and cheap substitute of the latter. Timely medical intervention is the only solution to the problem of heroin addiction as a chronic dependence undoubtedly means flirting with death.
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