April 14, 2022 – The drug has been the subject of a number of legislative efforts at both the state and national level. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2364, also known as the “Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act,” which is awaiting action in the Senate. It calls for efforts to raise awareness of opioid dangers and availability of substance abuse and mental health services. Another House bill, the Stop Fentanyl Act of 2021 was introduced last fall and has been assigned to committee.

Earlier this year, California lawmakers introduced an assembly bill that increases the punishment for anyone selling fentanyl.

Under Assembly Bill 2246, anyone possessing at least 2 grams of fentanyl may face at least two years in prison. Anyone selling fentanyl on social media may face at least three years in prison.  Fentanyl’s toxicity makes it 100 times more powerful than morphine and even a trace amount can be deadly. It can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled when in a powder.  That’s all the more reason for treatment facilities to work with those looking for help, said Jesse Collins, a counseling supervisor at Santa Rose Treatment Program.  “There’s urgency, for sure,” she said. “It’s like, get them in, absolutely.” 

Comparing the number of active fentanyl users with treated patients is difficult since little is known about exactly who’s using opioids in their private lives, experts say.

Collins said her facility has around 350 clients and about one-third of them were admitted for fentanyl, though their current levels of usage and treatment stages vary.

But of those who’ve been admitted into Santa Rosa Treatment Program over the past 2.5 years, she added, about 98% sought treatment for fentanyl use.

Given the differences among fentanyl users, experts say treatment weighs heavily on patients’ needs and concerns.


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