As of late, a nationwide alert on the dangers of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid-like drug, has been in the forefront.
Sold on the black market and in our streets, fentanyl’s popularity continues to rise. Why? On the streets, fentanyl is inexpensive, easily accessible, and way more potent than any other opioid available. Specifically, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Using fentanyl in large doses, especially in conjunction with alcohol, prescription medication, or another drug, can be deadly.
When medically prescribed, fentanyl is administered through a patch or a pill.
Prescribed for moderate to extreme chronic pain, this powerful opioid/narcotic is commonly used as part of anesthesia for surgical pain prevention. On the streets, this drug is being used in replacement of heroin and other heavy pain medications. It is also being mixed into heroin and cocaine to create a more intense euphoric effect. Since fentanyl has no smell or taste, this mixing (also called lacing) is often undetectable to the user and can cause an extremely dangerous cocktail resulting in overdose deaths.
In March of 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert on the dangers of fentanyl, stating, “Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety.” This alert included the risk involved with law enforcement coming in contact with the fatal drug. As fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled accidentally as airborne powder, law enforcement officers have now been warned to take full safety precautions to lessen the risk of exposure.
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A. W. (2016, April 5). Fentanyl: What you need to know about the deadly opioid. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
Fentanyl. (2016, June 03). Retrieved July 21, 2016.