Fentanyl named deadliest drug by CDC

Published: Dec. 13, 2018 at 6:47 PM CST
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"I'll remember that day for the rest of my life," Robert McCleary said.

Robert McCleary lives at the Outcast Sober Living and Substance Abuse Ministry.

He says it was Christmas Eve nearly eight years ago when he overdosed on fentanyl.

"My wife was doing CPR, the first responders were, they finally decided the ambulance couldn't make it because that ice storm was treacherous and they decided to put me in the truck and drive me 13 miles to a local hospital," McCleary said.

McCleary says medics kept trying to resuscitate him before he finally he woke up.

"Luckily thanks to God, I had no brain damage," McCleary said.

He says he had been addicted to the drug for about a year and a half before he overdosed.

"That day was only 50 milligrams and nine months earlier I was doing 100 milligrams but that opioid dependency in my body depleted and that 50 milligram patch was all It took that day," McCleary said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

It's approved for treating severe pain, typically for cancer patients.

The CDC states it's sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect.

It's often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine.

"Fentanyl, it's like no other drug I've ever been addicted too," McCleary said. "It seems to have an inner voice, in the fentanyl, that just tells you - you got something, do it, just keep doing it," McCleary said.

Wednesday the CDC named Fentanyl as the deadliest drug stating it's responsible for over 18,335 overdose deaths in 2016.

Reports show from 2013 to 2016 the rate of drug overdose deaths involving the drug increased by about 113% per year.

"I'm one of the fortunate ones that recovered from that overdose," McCleary said. "It scared me enough that I never touched fentanyl again."

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports in 2017, 54 people died due to unintentional poisoning from fentanyl.

The same report states from 2007 to 2017, 609 people died in Oklahoma due to unintentional poisoning from fentanyl.

A full report of the CDC research study can be found here:

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