TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. (WFLA) – At any given time, between 60 and 80 percent of the patients in treatment at Footprints Beachside Recovery Center are there because of their addiction to opioid pills, including Xanax.
The tight grip of addiction is so powerful, Footprints President John Templeton fears the appearance of a new “super pill” could have a devastating effect on both active addicts and those in recovery.
“It’s going to prevent people from coming to treatment because if one pill can kill somebody … dead people can’t recover,” Templeton said.
Withdrawing from Xanax and similar drugs can cause users terrible pain that may have them seeking relief from this “Frankenstein” Xanax that’s available on the streets for cheap.
“You get violently ill, throwing up, fever. It’s like the worst flu that you have ever had. A lot of times, just having to face those symptoms, without any sort of medical withdrawal, prevents people from ever wanting to stop,” Templeton said.
The pill, made from a mix of Fentanyl and Xanax, has claimed nine lives in Pinellas County alone – in a matter of weeks.
“You don’t have to take a handful of them. All you gotta do is take one, and you’re dead,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
Florida’s crackdown on so-called pill mills and the state’s tight regulations on prescription drugs could be to blame for the creation of this new concoction, sold for $5 a pop.
“We’ve created drug addicts and it’s not just going to stop. It’s certainly helped. They can’t get them from the doctor or the pharmacy as easy, so it helps the people that don’t need them … but people can get them on the street. That’s where they are going to find this fake Xanax,” Templeton said.
Officials say they don’t know where the drug is coming from or who is making it. For now, Templeton hopes to educate the community on the dangers of this super pill before it claims yet another life.