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What is Fentanyl?

A powerful opiate growing in popularity is the prescription drug called Fentanyl.  This medication was first synthesized in the late 1950's and was introduced to the market in the 1960's as an intravenous anesthetic. Today, Fentanyl is used for anesthesia and pain relief. It is normally prescribed in a patch form, but also can be given via lolli-pop or injected.  Opiate abusers are also known for snorting and smoking it.

Fentanyl is very similar to morphine but is much more powerful.  Studies show that Fentanyl is about 100 times stronger than morphine. It works the same way as morphine and heroin by binding to opiate receptors in the brain which control pain and emotions. It gives a very euphoric feeling because when Fentanyl binds to these receptors, it can drive up dopamine levels in the brain's reward areas. This drug is a commonly abused opioid and is highly sought out on the black market. In recent years, the drug has been produced in underground labs in powder form. When Fentanyl powder is added to street drugs like heroin, it adds potency which makes it extremely dangerous.

Fentanyl can be extremely lethal when it is abused.  It causes respiratory depression and arrest, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, unconsciousness, coma, tolerance, addiction, and ultimately death. On the street, kids are in search for Fentanyl patches and lozenges. The lozenges look like lolli-pops with a square at the bottom of a stick. They provide the medication in small doses but are easily abused. It has been seen that young adults will chew on the patches instead of letting the medication absorb slowly through the skin transdermally. This is extremely dangerous and often times leads to an overdose.  Fentanyl goes by the street names of Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, and murder 8. 

It is safe to say that there is a Fentanyl epidemic on the streets. Many heroin dealers are adding the Fentanyl to their batches of heroin to make them more potent. Heroin laced with Fentanyl is what killed “Glee” star Cory Monteith. It's use has spiked over the past 7 years. According to New York City Police Detective Andrews Shaffer, “A couple of grains of Fentanyl in a bag of heroin – grains the size of salt – can cause an overdose.” The city of Philadelphia had a major overdose outbreak due to Fentanyl in 2006. It caused 269 deaths in that city alone.

Fentanyl is a scheduled II narcotic and should be locked in a safe if not being used. It has the potential to kill when in the wrong hands. If you are a parent and find Fentanyl in the possession of your child, look immediately for professional help.


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