Aug. 25, 2022 – Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain. However, many recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl — often mixed with heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine — and trafficked into the U.S.from countries such as China, India and Mexico. “Trillions of pills got into every single community in the United States … Things lose control when you have that scale of pills in the environment,” Herring said. “They just end up everywhere. So that meant that millions became dependent on opioids.”

After realizing the gravity of the problem opioids had created, doctors “turned it off,” Herring said, and without alternatives or treatment available for people who had become dependent. 

“Opioids change you. There is a neuro-adaptation that occurs in every inch of your body … You cannot just simply say ‘no more opioids.’ Your body’s going to fight you — just like you will fight for air,” Herring said. “It was incredibly naive to think we could, as physicians, as doctors, as health care systems, simply cut people off, without offering treatment.” 

In 2015, Nevada passed several laws as part of the “prescription monitoring program” to tackle the opioid epidemic. This included the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which protects any person who calls 911 to assist someone who may be overdosing on opiates, and SB288, which developed a computerized program to track prescriptions for controlled substances.