Q: I keep hearing how something called fentanyl makes recreational drugs really dangerous to life or death. I want to give my teenage and young adult children a deep fear. So what are the facts? —Gerry G., Philadelphia
A: The federal government has a website called “One Pill Can Kill,” and if that doesn’t sum up the horrors of fentanyl, I don’t know what it does. You can visit it at www.dea.gov/onepill. Their sections on parenting advice and the difference between legit and fake “prescription” drugs are very helpful. Here is the chilling data they share:
• Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, similar to morphine but 50 to 100
times more powerful.
• Criminal drug rings mass-produce fake pills and mismarket
like legitimate prescription pills,
often on social networks and e-commerce
• Many counterfeit pills are manufactured to
resemble prescription opioids such
in the form of oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet),
hydrocodone (Vicodin) and alprazolam
(Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall).
• Drug Enforcement Administration Laboratories
find that four out of 10 pills they
test are linked to a potentially fatal
dose of fentanyl. (These are not obtained from legitimate pharmacies.)
• Fentanyl is also mixed with
heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and
So far this year, the DEA has seized 20 million fentanyl-containing pills, but that hasn’t stopped many massive overdose incidents. Last month, the DEA sent a letter to law enforcement partners at local, state and federal agencies warning of a national spike in massive overdose events related to fentanyl. The DEA administrator warned that “many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl until it is too late.”
In 2021, there were more than 80,000 drug overdose deaths involving opioids, and more than 71,000 of those involved illegally manufactured fentanyl. Please share this with your children and make it clear – just trying (any pill, powder or patch) once might be “just” dying once. Nothing beats that risk.
Q: I am 37 years old and have high blood pressure. My new husband and I want to have a child, but my OB-GYN says I
First I need to control my blood pressure without medication. It seems extreme. What do you think? —Alyese D., Manhattan, Kansas
A: High blood pressure in pregnancy, whether due to a pre-existing condition or developed during pregnancy, has potentially far-reaching negative effects on the mother, including pre-eclampsia, stroke, labor induced and placental abruption (the placenta separating from the wall of uterus). A third of women who died in childbirth in 2019 had a high blood pressure disorder. It also affects the fetus and newborn, causing premature labor (before week 37), low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces), and even birth defects of the penis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just sounded the alarm: these risks now affect one in seven deliveries! So why is your doctor telling you that you should change your lifestyle to control your blood pressure? I can’t be sure, but I think it’s a vote of confidence that you can beat this on your own. Some blood pressure medications are considered safe during pregnancy, but angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and renin blockers are generally avoided. And lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure at least as much as a single antihypertensive drug, according to a study in the British Journal of General Medicine.
I bet you can check off the lifestyle steps to follow: Eat a plant-based diet – seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Reduce the consumption of saturated and total fats. Take 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent. Maintain a healthy body weight. Get enough restful sleep each night. And practice stress reduction techniques like meditation. If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor for help with medication.
For a truly wonderful pregnancy and new motherhood, take action now to control your blood pressure.
Health pioneer Michael Roizen, MD, is Director Emeritus of Wellness at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four #1 publications New York Times bestsellers. His next book is The Old Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Future. Do you have a topic that Dr. Mike should address in a future column? If so, please email [email protected]
(c)2022 Michael Roizen, MD Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.