A recent nation-wide alert has been issued via Federal Drug Enforcement officials across the U.S regarding the dangers of the opiate Fentanyl. It appears that the use of Fentanyl has been increasing, especially in combination with illegal heroin production/use on the street. Fentanyl is often used to increase the potency of heroin, causing increases in patient overdoses and sometimes causing death.
Fentanyl is a prescription opioid that is used in anesthetic preparations as well as a painkilling drug. A spokeswoman for the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says that Fentanyl is being illegally produced in underground drug labs for street narcotics. Because Fentanyl is such a strong opiate, it easily increases the strength of what users initially believe or think is heroin; this combined with the user not knowing about the increase in the strength of the drug can easily lead to overdose and death.
What many people do not know or perhaps are unaware of is that even a small amount of Fentanyl is extremely potent. In fact, Fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and as much as 50 times more powerful than heroin. This is why its inclusion in other street drugs and preparations are extremely dangerous. In addition to these facts, Fentanyl is also easily absorbed, even through the skin or as an airborne powder – easily intoxicating to a person, including law enforcement officials. Because of the strength and ease of absorption it takes very little of the drug to cause overdose, and then for the drug to cause the onset of respiratory depression which can cause death.
The use and rise of Fentanyl appears to be causing major concern for law enforcement and for healthcare professionals. In 2013, there were 942 instances of drug busts for Fentanyl, but in 2014, that number increased to almost 3,500. It appears that the trend will increase as 2015 progresses and comes to a close unless something drastic can be done to prevent its production and use.
In terms of the actual overdoses and where they are being recorded, recently recorded statistics show the damage and loss of life:
“...Fentanyl overdoses have accounted for four deaths in New Hampshire over two months, 80 deaths in six months in New Jersey, and 200 deaths in 15 months in Pennsylvania. It's a scourge last seen in the United States between 2005 and 2007, when more than 1,000 deaths in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and other cities were attributed to Fentanyl...”.
If ever there was a reason to stop using and abusing opiates it is plain to see – life is truly too precious for us to throw it away on chasing a high that will never truly satisfy us.