Drug overdoses took the lives of over 64,000 Americans in 2016. To make matters worse, this was nearly a 20% increase from 2015. While this is mostly due to the ongoing Opioid Epidemic in this country, the 20% increase in drug deaths can almost entirely be blamed on one specific opioid: Fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful fully synthetic opioid medication. While fentanyl is legally prescribed for chronic pain relief, it is also clandestinely manufactured for the illegal drug trade.
Fentanyl is highly desirable for drug traffickers for a number of reasons.
First, since it is fully synthetic, it can be synthesized illegally in labs commonly in China or Mexico.
Second, fentanyl is approximately 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and thus requires extremely small doses (on the order of micrograms).
What makes Fentanyl so dangerous?
Fentanyl, which is dosed by the microgram, can be fatal with extremely small doses. Often times, however, drug dealers do not advertise that the drugs they are selling are laced with fentanyl. This is usually because fentanyl is much cheaper for the dealers than other narcotics.
For example, heroin is typically much more expensive than fentanyl, so often times fentanyl will be mixed with heroin in order to save money. Counterfeit prescription pills will often contain fentanyl as well.
The reason fentanyl containing drugs are so dangerous is twofold. First, the dose in which can cause a lethal overdose is almost always so small, that it is practically impossible for the user to detect its presence. A 2019 fentanyl outbreak in California lead to twelve hospitalizations.
This small dose coupled with the extremely rapid onset of fentanyl means users typically will not realize what they have used until it is too late.
Second, those lacing drugs with fentanyl almost never have the knowledge or equipment to adequately mix the drug with whatever cutting agents are being used. This means almost every batch is going to have a few doses in which are “hot”, or contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.
Opioid abuse has always been one of the most dangerous and lethal additions known to man. With the recent surge of fentanyl illicitly entering the country, however, it is now more dangerous than it has ever been. The reality of the situation for every opioid user is that death is only a single use away, and that each dose could very likely be the last action they ever take.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.