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News Too Real: Part 2 -There were more fentanyl drug overdoses and deaths during COVID-19 pandemic

Producer host Julia Dudley Najieb reviews the fentanyl overdoses and deaths during the pandemic

By ONME Newswire

News Too Real April 5, 2022: In episode 6 of season 4, producer host Julia Dudley Najieb continues with part 2 of reviewing the statistics concerning the increase of fentanyl use and overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic; overdose deaths are expanding into urban, African-American communities.

Opioids are drugs that are prescribed to treat moderately severe or severe pain. Examples of these drugs include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, and methadone. Heroin, an illegal drug, is also an opioid. In order to understand how opioids work, it’s important to know how your body feels pain. The process begins when something harmful happens to your body. Information about this harm is converted to a nerve signal. The signal passes along nerves to your spinal cord and brain. In your brain, the signal is perceived as pain.

Opioid drugs affect how you feel pain. They attach to structures, called opioid receptors. These receptors are found on cells in your brain, spinal cord, and other areas of your body. Opioids act on these receptors to make you feel less pain. These drugs also have different effects in other areas. For example, opioids act on the reward pathway in your brain. This causes a release of a chemical called dopamine that results in a happy feeling, or “high.” Opioids may also cause slower breathing. And, they may cause reduced motion of your intestines, resulting in constipation. For most people, when opioids are taken as prescribed for a short time, they are fairly safe and effective. But, these drugs can be taken in ways that weren’t prescribed, such as taking too many, taking them to get high, or giving them to someone else. Misusing these drugs can raise your risk of developing drug tolerance, dependence, addiction, and overdose. Tolerance means the drug is less effective over time. This can happen when opioid receptors become less sensitive to the effects of the drug. As a result, more of the drug needs to be taken for you to get pain relief. Dependence happens if a person has symptoms when they stop using the drug. When the drug is removed, or withdrawn, you feel sick. This sickness is called withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal has flu-like symptoms that include restlessness and anxiety, muscle aches, inability to sleep, watery eyes and runny nose, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, and dilated, or widened, pupils. Opioid addiction is a brain disease where you have an overwhelming craving for the drug. You can’t stop taking the drug despite the harm it may cause you. Addiction is not the same as dependence. You can be tolerant of a drug or dependent on a drug, without being addicted to it. Finally, opioid overdose is a condition where taking too much of the drug can cause life-threatening symptoms, or even death. The symptoms of opioid overdose can include confusion, feeling very sleepy or not alert, nausea and vomiting, constricted, or small, pupils, unconsciousness, slow or stopped breathing, and death.

In the United States (U.S.), the expansion of the use of fentanyl drugs was accompanied by increased numbers of individuals who suffer from fentanyl use disorder (Mori et al., 2006). FUD is a chronic relapsing neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by compulsive drug taking and seeking, despite negative life consequences (DSM-V, 2013). The rise in fentanyl abuse had also led to a surge in fentanyl overdose deaths that were accelerated during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (CDC, 2020a). These deaths are probably related to the fact that fentanyl and fentanyl analogs have very high affinity for μ-opioid receptors and are therefore extremely toxic when consumed in large quantities because of their interactions with receptors located in brain regions that control respiration. It is important to point out that during the time of increased fentanyl abuse and drug-induced fatal overdoses, there were African American subgroups that have been reported to surpass other ethnic groups in terms of fentanyl-associated overdose deaths (Carlesso and Kara, 2019; Lippold et al., 2019; Chau, 2020; DeLaquil, 2020; Furr-Holden et al., 2021).

People who misuse fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs often suffer from withdrawal symptoms when access to the drug is not available for an extended period of time (DSM-V, 2013). FUD patients with these symptoms may find it difficult to follow COVID-19-related safety guidelines when in search of opioid drugs to combat withdrawal-associated signs and symptoms. They may also not be able to weigh the benefits of vaccination to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 variants throughout their communities. Also of interest is the fact that patients who abuse opioid drugs including fentanyl may be susceptible to abnormalities in organ systems that express opioid receptors including the brain, lungs, and immune systems (Mildh et al., 2001; Borner et al., 2013; Switzer et al., 2020). Consequently, abnormalities in the lungs and immune systems might serve to limit the ability of patients to recover from severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS) observed in some COVID-19 patients (Li and Ma, 2020).

News Too Real Podcast 4-5-22 Headlines:


From wind farms across the African coastline to geothermal projects in the east African rift valley, a new United Nations climate report brought the continent’s vast clean energy potential into the spotlight. If realized, these renewable energy projects could blunt the harshest global warming effects, power the continent’s projected economic development and lift millions out of poverty, the report said.

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report comes at a time when Africa’s renewable energy business is already booming. Many African nations are intensifying efforts to embrace alternative renewable energy pathways and shift away from fossil fuel dependency, with countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa taking the lead on large-scale clean energy adoption.

Yet Africa has attracted just 2% — $60 billion — of the $2.8 trillion invested in renewables worldwide in the last two decades and accounts for only 3% of the world’s current renewable energy capacity. Limiting warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, in line with the 2016 Paris climate agreement, will involve even greater energy system transformation, the U.N. report said.

Africa suffers some of the most severe effects from climate change, despite being the lowest greenhouse gas emitting continent with the least adaptive capacity. Swathes of the continent still lack access to electricity and cooking fuels: The International Energy Agency estimates some 580 million people were without power in 2019, and the World Health Organization says about 906 million are in need of cleaner cooking fuels and technologies.


The Biden administration plans to freeze federal student loan payments through Aug. 31, extending a moratorium that has allowed millions of Americans to postpone payments during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an administration official familiar with the White House’s decision-making.

Student loan payments were scheduled to resume May 1 after being halted since early in the pandemic. But following calls from Democrats in Congress, the White House plans to give borrowers additional time to prepare for payments. Borrowers will not be asked to make payments until after Aug. 31, and interest rates are expected to remain at 0% during that period.


The weekend shooting in Sacramento, Calif., that left six people dead and at least 12 others wounded happened just a few blocks from the Capitol in a state with the nation's strongest gun laws.

California has the most gun laws of any state: 107, according to the State Firearm Laws project at Boston University.

Two people have been arrested on gun charges so far for this weekend's shooting — a flash of violence that has led politicians from President Biden all the way down to city councilors in the California capital to demand that more be done to address guns.

By adopting the country's strongest gun measures, California takes on another task: defending the constitutionality of those laws in a country where gun rights and gun control are a seemingly never-ending battle.


Viewers can watch the News Too Real video podcast online at scheduled times 7:00 PM and 7:00 AM PST or on-demand via OTT channels Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

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