The Deadly Rise of Fentanyl: Understanding the Dangers and Impacts of this Powerful Opioid Drug

Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because fentanyl is strong and cheap to produce, people who manufacture illegal drugs use fentanyl to make their drugs more powerful and less expensive to manufacture.

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Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is commonly used as a pain reliever and anesthetic. It is known for its strong analgesic properties and is considered to be about 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is used to treat severe pain, particularly in patients who have developed a tolerance to other opioids.


However, the drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction and can be fatal when used inappropriately. In this article, we will discuss the major aspects of fentanyl, including its history, pharmacology, medical uses, side effects, addiction potential, overdose, and treatment.

Here are some key facts about the drug

  1. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to manage severe pain, particularly in patients who have developed a tolerance to other opioids.

  2. Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because fentanyl is strong and cheap to produce, people who manufacture illegal drugs use fentanyl to make their drugs more powerful and less expensive to manufacture.

  3. The drug is available in several different forms, including injectable solutions, transdermal patches, lozenges, and nasal sprays.

  4. Fentanyl works by binding to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which reduces the perception of pain and can also cause feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

  5. Fentanyl has several potential side effects, including sedation, dizziness, nausea, constipation, respiratory depression, hypotension, itching, and hallucinations.

  6. Long-term use of fentanyl can lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and a strong urge to use the drug despite negative consequences.

  7. Fentanyl overdose can be fatal, and signs of overdose include extreme drowsiness, confusion, constricted pupils, shallow breathing, slow heart rate, cold, clammy skin, and blue lips and nails.

  8. Treatment for fentanyl addiction may include inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and support groups.

  9. Fentanyl has played a significant role in the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States and has become one of the leading causes of opioid-related overdose deaths.

  10. To reduce the risk of fentanyl overdose and addiction, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with the drug, use it only as prescribed by a healthcare professional, and seek help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

History of Fentanyl

Fentanyl was first synthesized in 1960 by Belgian chemist Paul Janssen. The drug was initially developed as a pain reliever and anesthetic and was first used clinically in the 1960s. It quickly gained popularity due to its potency and effectiveness in managing severe pain.

In the 1990s, fentanyl began to be used more widely in the United States for the treatment of chronic pain. The drug was prescribed in various forms, including patches, lozenges, and injections. However, the increased availability of the drug also led to an increase in misuse and abuse.

Pharmacology of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that acts on the central nervous system. It works by binding to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which reduces the perception of pain. The drug also activates the reward center of the brain, which can lead to feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

Fentanyl is available in various forms, including injectable solutions, transdermal patches, and lozenges. The drug is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches peak levels within minutes after administration.

Medical Uses of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is primarily used to manage severe pain, particularly in patients who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. The drug is commonly used in surgical settings, as well as for the treatment of chronic pain, cancer pain, and breakthrough pain.

Fentanyl is available in several different forms, including injectable solutions, transdermal patches, lozenges, and nasal sprays. Each form of the drug has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of form depends on the patient’s individual needs and preferences.

Side Effects of Fentanyl

Like all opioids, fentanyl has several potential side effects. These can include:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Hypotension
  • Itching
  • Hallucinations

In addition to these side effects, fentanyl can also cause serious complications, such as addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction Potential of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a highly addictive drug that can cause physical and psychological dependence. The drug’s potency and rapid onset of action can make it particularly addictive, as users may quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and require higher doses to achieve the same effects.

Long-term use of fentanyl can lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and a strong urge to use the drug despite negative consequences. Addiction to fentanyl can be difficult to overcome and often requires professional treatment.

Overdose and Treatment of Fentanyl

A fentanyl overdose can be fatal and can occur when a person takes too much of the drug or when the drug is mixed with other substances, such as alcohol or other opioids. Signs of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blue lips and nails

In the event of a fentanyl overdose, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately. Treatment for fentanyl overdose may include the administration of naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioids. It is important to note that even after the administration of naloxone, medical attention is still necessary, as the effects of fentanyl can persist even after the initial overdose symptoms have been reversed.

In addition to emergency treatment for overdose, there are several treatment options available for those struggling with fentanyl addiction. These may include inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and support groups.

Fentanyl and the Opioid Epidemic

Fentanyl has played a significant role in the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. The drug’s potency and availability have made it an attractive option for drug dealers, who often mix it with other substances such as heroin, cocaine, or benzodiazepines to increase their profits.

As a result, fentanyl has become one of the leading causes of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 36,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, in 2019.

In response to the opioid epidemic, there have been efforts to increase awareness of the risks associated with fentanyl and other opioids, improve access to addiction treatment, and strengthen regulations around the prescribing and distribution of opioids.

Conclusion

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is commonly used to manage severe pain. While the drug can be effective for pain management when used appropriately, it also has a high potential for abuse and addiction and can be fatal when used inappropriately. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with fentanyl and to seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to this drug or other opioids.

 


Where does fentanyl come from?

The precursor chemicals making up the essential ingredients of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances is from China. After being shipped to Mexico, the chemicals are produced into fentanyl-containing tablets and enter the United States via our southern border.
What is fentanyl used as?

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic (pain relief) and anesthetic. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. The majority of fentanyl is mass-produced in Mexico using chemicals from China before being pressed into pills or mixed with other counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall, or oxycodone. The counterfeit drugs are then sold to unaware buyers as analgesic.

Who makes fentanyl?

The majority of fentanyl is mass-produced in Mexico using chemicals from China before being pressed into pills or mixed with other counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall, or oxycodone. The counterfeit drugs are then sold to unaware buyers.

How strong is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is much stronger than most other opioids—up to 100 times stronger than morphine—and is very dangerous if misused.

How many people have died from fentanyl in San Diego?

More than 1,770 people have died from fentanyl in San Diego County since 2019.

What are the side effects of fentanyl?

Its effects include extreme happiness, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma, and death.

What drug is 10000 times stronger than fentanyl?

Carfentanil, which is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

Does fentanyl hurt your heart?

When someone uses fentanyl in the long term, this change in the natural rhythm of the heart can become permanent, contributing to a lack of adequate oxygen delivery and heart damage.

Can fentanyl cause sudden death?

Fentanyl is well known for overdose deaths, usually from cardiopulmonary arrest when it is admixed with other drugs mentioned above[14-16]

Is fentanyl life-threatening?

Illegally manufactured fentanyl is often added to other substances like counterfeit pills, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. As a result, many people may not know they’re ingesting fentanyl, leading to accidental poisoning. Even in small doses, fentanyl exposure can cause a life-threatening overdose.

What are other brand names for fentanyl?

In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.

Who are the manufacturers of opioids?

Four agreements are with opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Endo, Teva, and Allergan. There is a separate agreement with three major pharmaceutical distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, as well as a settlement reached through bankruptcy with Mallinckrodt, a manufacturer, and distributor.

Who makes fake fentanyl?

These pills are largely made by two Mexican drug cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Jalisco (CJNG) Cartel, to look identical to real prescription medications, including OxyContin®, Percocet®, and Xanax®, and they are often deadly. In 2021, the DEA seized more than 20.4 million fake prescription pills.

How Long Does a Fentanyl High Last?

The duration of a fentanyl high can vary depending on the route of administration, dose, and individual tolerance. When injected, the high is typically rapid and can last for several hours. When used illicitly, the high may peak within 30-60 minutes and can also last for several hours. However, it is important to note that the risks associated with fentanyl use, including addiction and overdose, can have long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences.

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