Status: 28.11.2023, 20:29 PM
By: Nico Reiter
The addictive substance fentanyl is also spreading in Germany. Addiction experts warn of the consequences and demand countermeasures to help those affected.
Frankfurt – In New York, at least 2022 people died from drug use in 3026. This is twelve percent more than in 2021. This increase is due to fentanyl use, according to spektrum.de. Fentanyl abuse is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 49.
In the meantime, the drug is also spreading in Germany. Pictures from the streets of Frankfurt show people under the influence of the drug. It got the name "zombie drug" because of the slumped, bent over posture and the uncontrolled movements caused by the influence. In Germany, more people died under the influence of drugs in 2023 than at any time in the last 20 years.
Fentanyl is particularly dangerous when consumed unknowingly, for example with Herion. © Theissen/Imago
"Zombie drug" fentanyl spreads in Germany
Fentanyl is actually a painkiller and is used for anesthesia or cancer. It has a strong sedative effect and can be used as an injection, nasal spray or patch. In some cases, the drug is deliberately used for its sedative effect, or mixed with other drugs, often without the knowledge of the user.
Addiction researcher Daniel Deimel warns in an interview with ntv: "Our fear is that with the increased occurrence of synthetic opioids, it could also lead to more drug emergencies and possibly more drug deaths." Addiction researchers are observing how synthetic substances are gradually coming onto the market in Europe. The difference with the opioid crisis in the U.S. is that highly effective opioids have been administered in a medical context, causing patients to become addicted to the drugs.
The greatest danger, however, is to consume the remedy unknowingly. Other drugs, such as heroin, are increasingly being mixed with synthetic substances such as fentanyl. Just two milligrams of fentanyl are enough to be lethal as a mixture. This amount is equal to no more than a few grains of salt.
Countermeasures for the protection of those affected
According to addiction associations, measures such as rapid tests in drug consumption rooms could defuse the situation in Germany. In spring 2023, the German Aids Aid launched the "Rapid Fentanyl Tests" project, in which heroin can be tested for unknown substances in five federal states.
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A release of naloxone, a nasal spray that can be used for respiratory arrest, could also help in emergencies. Addiction associations are pleading for a quick implementation of the measures, as ntv reports, so that the situation in Germany does not deteriorate. Drug use among young people in Frankfurt is also rising again after the pandemic.