Fentanyl Deaths- a Personal Account

Many of us get sick during cold and flu season and sometimes we get so sick that we have trouble dragging ourselves out of the house or have difficulty being prescribed antibiotics.

In this fast paced “nobody has time to be sick or recover” culture- people are generally expected to work through illnesses. Which has helped boost the prescribing of antibiotics to hasten our recovery.

But many of us have trouble getting in to be seen or even being seen, then being told to rest. Unfortunately, most employers, children, society just doesn’t accept that. So we count on antibiotics to help us get better faster.

I was recently told by a coworker that I should use an online unlicensed pharmacy located in another country so that I could have antibiotics on hand. I am an RN, I am not an doctor, I am not supposed to diagnose myself or others but I’ve had enough sinus infections to know when I need antibiotics.

I ran this idea past my mother- thinking that as resourceful as she is- she would already have a reputable online pharmacy. What she told me was shocking.

She immediately began to rant about how a friend of my brothers had ordered from an online pharmacy- what he ordered- she claimed not to know but what he got was something laced with enough Fentanyl to kill him and nearly kill two of his friends at the same time.

I went to my father to confirm this shocking report, and he said he did not know where the drugs came from- but he did know that the man who died had been planning to buy amphetamines- not fentanyl.

My father and one of my brothers were the most devastated by this event because they had both know this man for most of his life. My brother and the man (approximately 35 years old at the time of his death) had been school age friends with my brother for decades and he had spent years working freelance with my father doing odd jobs.

Although the death seemed to come out of left field, I was aware that this man was an alcoholic- a chronic one. He could not get his life together and he could not control his drinking at all. The shocking part of all this was that I had expected if the guy ever died, it would be a slow, alcohol poisoning death and not something so unexpected and swift.

I doubt that this guy was suicidal. He was with two friends doing what they thought was meth for fun, I assume. Nobody could confirm where they got the drugs for certain but one thing was for sure- that they did not intend to buy fentanyl.

A few weeks back, a doctor that I see regularly and have been seeing for years suddenly refused to refill a medication I’ve been taking for years until I could get in for an appointment. The first available appointment was over a month away. During this time, I searched online pharmacies out of desperation so that I wouldn’t be in a state of withdrawl for the coming month. I have a career, children- I can’t just go off a physically addictive medication and go on as if everything is fine.

What’s scary about this is that I don’t use “drugs”. Street drugs. I don’t even smoke weed. I have nothing against it- it just makes me paranoid and way too thirsty. So when you think of people dying from fentanyl- it may not be the caricature of the “drug addict” or alcoholic or person who doesn’t have their shit together. It may just be an average single mom, an RN working full time who was yanked off physically addictive medication for no reason having to find a replacement so that she can continue to take care of her kids and work.

Now that we know fentanyl can be anything from antibiotics to marijuana, the entire landscape has changed. We really have no idea what is in these drugs and the increase in reliance on pharmaceutical companies and doctors is frightening.


Published by kristinatehrani

Born a first generation American, half Irish Catholic and half Persian Jew, I like to write about a childhood mired in the chaos of never knowing where I stood. The only constants in my life have been reading, writing and a passion for social justice. I am a nurse, a single mother, a domestic abuse survivor, radical feminist and outspoken advocate for logic, public health, gray areas, and purposeful dialogue. I know entirely too much about sociopaths, autism, and medieval British history. I write under a pen name to protect the privacy of my family.

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