According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.” Fentanyl was developed in 1959 for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied via a transdermal patch on the skin. Because this synthetic opioid is so powerful, Fentanyl is commonly diverted for abuse and used either directly, or indirectly to increase the potency of other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, and even marijuana. Counterfeit pills like Oxycontin are often heavily laced with Fentanyl to produce a strong opiate reaction. The addition of Fentanyl in these products is most often done without the knowledge of the user. For example, many heroin users believe that they are purchasing heroin without the knowledge that its potency has been increased which often results in overdose deaths.
Fentanyl can produce similar effects as other opioid analgesics:
- pain relief
- pupillary constriction
- respiratory depression
- urinary retention
Respiratory depression, however, remains the most dangerous of these side effects leading to significant increases in overdose deaths: According to the CDC, more adults between 18 and 45 died of fentanyl overdoses in 2020 than COVID-19, motor vehicle accidents, cancer, and suicide. Disturbingly, Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin (transdermally) which has resulted in many overdose deaths of innocent individuals (and children) who happened to come in contact with the drug unwittingly.
This alarming increase can be attributed, primarily, to illicit Fentanyl use where the product is manufactured, often in Mexico, China, or other Asian countries, and then smuggled into the United States illegally. It is far less expensive than other opioids because it is manufactured (synthetic) and not dependent upon a poppy supply like Heroin. It can also be manufactured to be stronger (Carfentanyl) with worse withdrawals making the user want the drug even more. While there are drugs like Narcan used to counteract and reverse symptoms of opiate overdose, some forms of Fentanyl are more resistant to it.
Because it is crystalline and easy to incorporate, Fentanyl can be administered in a wide variety of ways:
- Intravenous (on its own or with heroin to increase the potency and the profitability for the drug dealer)
- Oral (counterfeit Rx pills, mushrooms)
- Smoked/Inhaled (marijuana)
- Transdermal (through skin contact)
Medical Detox and long-term Substance Abuse treatment is often the best solution as this synthetic opioid has devastating withdrawal symptoms including joint pain and nausea.
If you would like to find out more about what Treatments are available to you or a loved one, please contact us now at (772) 584-3083. While we provide Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Outpatient Program (OP) treatment, we can be instrumental in directing you to a higher level of care if necessary.