Fentanyl’s mainstream reputation as a killer began with the death of Prince in April 2016, and since then it has shown no sign of fading from the headlines. With a starring role in the growing opioid epidemic, it stands to claim the lives of tens of thousands this year—something it has done since the year 2000.
As the use and abuse of potent pharmaceutical drugs continues to grow, these are the need-to-know facts behind one of the most lethal of them all.
- The Drug Enforcement Agency claims Fentanyl to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and 25-50 times more potent than heroin.
- Fentanyl is known for its rapid onset and short duration, creating a more euphoric experience for the user.
- Fentanyl is available in many forms medicinally, including: patches, sprays, inhalers and lollipops. It can also be delivered intravenously for anesthesia and pain relief. The patches have received the most scrutiny, where the prescriptions present such a high-risk for abuse that patients are often required to return their used patches before they can refill their prescription.
- Illegally, Fentanyl is found mostly in pill and powder form and often used to “cut” other drugs. It isn’t typically sold to the consumer solo.
- Fentanyl is effective in microgram doses, whereas other synthetic opioids require milligram doses. It is virtually impossible to accurately measure the drug without specialized equipment. This makes the illegal concoctions especially lethal.
- 18% of overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015 were attributed to synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl. A total of 73% of overdoses were attributed to opioids as a whole—which includes drugs such as heroin and oxycodone.
- Heroin is being found cut with Fentanyl due to the potency and affordability of the drug when compared with other synthetic opioids. Reports of cocaine being cut with the drug have also surfaced—where individuals seeking a stimulant and having no opioid tolerance have overdosed and died.
While there is no debating the damage that Fentanyl is doing in the realm of overdose and addiction, it is important to note that it is also used responsibly by patients with a prescription everyday. After all, painkillers are meant to kill pain, not people—but if you choose to fuck with Fentanyl, may caution be your guide.