The Rise of Fentanyl

Pop superstar Prince found dead from an overdose of Fentanyl.

In recent years, fentanyl has become a favorite of opioid addicts, because it’s extremely potent and packs a near-instantaneous high. That’s also what makes it so deadly. It can kill in seconds, and fentanyl overdoses are a growing problem in the U.S. It is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 20 to 40 times stronger than heroin. It is cheaper than heroin, so drug dealers lace their products with it to increase their profit margins. People who buy heroin often don’t know that it has been cut with fentanyl. The DEA issued a nationwide alert last year to warn law enforcement officials that the drug could be fatal even in small doses.

FentanylThe drug was introduced into medical practices as an IV anesthetic in the 1960s. Today it’s legally available by prescription as a treatment for cancer pain that returns while you’re on other opioids. But it’s also made in clandestine labs and imported into the U.S. as a street drug.
351 people overdosed fatally on opiates last year in New Hampshire, according to data provided by the state’s medical examiner. Twenty-eight of those victims overdosed on heroin alone; fentanyl was a factor in 253 of the deaths.

According to the FBI, of the 4,585 fentanyl stashes that the DEA reported seizing in 2014, 10 states made up 80% of the haul — with Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania in the top three spots. Ohio’s 1,245 seizures almost doubled the amount in Massachusetts (630), making it ground zero for the drug. In 2014, Ohio recorded 514 fentanyl-related overdose deaths, dramatically outpacing the 92 they saw in 2013.

The Danger of Fentanyl

The danger of Fentanyl lies first in its potency and its immediacy. Originally prescribed as an anesthetic, fentanyl is now classified as a Schedule II narcotic drug, meaning it is highly addictive and incredibly toxic to experienced and new users alike. As the popularity of heroin abuse among young adults’ increases, so does the number of fentanyl-heroin related deaths. In a two-year span, more than 1,000 deaths were caused by fentanyl-heroin overdoses in the United States alone. The effects parallel that of its opiate family members, heroin and morphine, at a much more intensified height. Its dangers, therefore, are often disguised by other drugs’ effects. Fentanyl causes euphoria, but it can also make users drowsy, confused, or nauseated when used in combination with other substances. Just as opioid overdose can completely terminate a person’s respiration, fentanyl overdose can quickly cause a user to stop breathing. One user can inject their normal dose of heroin (or what they believe is pure heroin, but actually mixed with fentanyl) and fall unconscious before they pull the needle out of their arm.

Fentanyl-Statistics

Anyone who has become dependent on the fentanyl patch, or in any form, whether using it legitimately for pain, or for other reasons, needs to know these important facts about fentanyl detox:

  1. A safe fentanyl detox requires specialized medical detox knowledge and skills.
  2. Fentanyl detox can sometimes require special, advanced medical detox protocols, to avoid the weeks or months of painful, step-down withdrawal similar to the advanced protocols used for high dose methadone detox.
  3. These special, advanced fentanyl detox protocols are not widely available.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.3 million people aged 12 or older reported currently using prescription pain relievers for non-medical reasons. Since secrecy surrounds addiction, this is likely an underestimate. Addiction is shrouded in efforts to hide behaviors from others and addicts struggle in isolation, but you can choose a different path where effective support and help are yours for the asking. If you or someone you know is addicted to Fentanyl seek help now! You don’t have to deal with your addiction alone.