Fentanyl, America’s New Vice

The sudden and the calamitous rise of the strong opioid fentanyl is best explained by Dr. Robert Heimer, professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut. Dr. Heimer is considered an authority on opioids and overdose deaths pertaining to them. As per him, fentanyl scores over opiate heroin, primarily because the dealers do not have to grow any plants, requiring acres and acres of land. Unlike its close cousin, heroin, which is procured from the heart of the poppy flower, fentanyl can be developed synthetically in a lab. Alternatively, it is delivered from China where some fentanyl analogues are not considered illegal. Another predominant reason for the astonishing rise is the drug’s use in providing relief to cancer patients and those undergoing labor pains in the last couple of years, which is pure mathematics. When drug dealers lace their heroin or cocaine with fentanyl, they intend to double their profits. Adulterated heroin, cocaine or prescription drug is cheaper than pure heroin or cocaine; and it helps increase the consumer base. Users do not seek fentanyl intentionally People who use drugs occasionally are aware of the risks fentanyl and its stronger analogue carfentanil involve. Therefore, they do not seek to use it intentionally. Unfortunately, as source of the drug is rarely known, they become unwitting preys. Trapped into a habit of strong opioids by drug dealers, who are only concerned about money, such victims let their life go astray until they are found dead or comatose somewhere. Some realize the risks early and decide to seek cure. Some of the common drugs that are fraudulently laced with fentanyl include, heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit prescription pills. Those taking the drug report a “hot spiky high,” which is unlike anything they had ever felt before. They get hooked immediately. Such is the pull of fentanyl that some even take to dealing into drugs, so that they are not short of cash for their dope. However, it is like a game of roulette. If a drug dose contains a higher amount of fentanyl, the user could rapidly lose consciousness, making it difficult to revive the person. In other instances, death could be instantaneous, the moment the drug touches the lips. Almost 50 times more potent than heroin and nearly 100 times stronger than morphine, even breathing in the air contaminated with fentanyl or touching any surface that has the drug on it can be deadly. As a result, first responders who deal with drug overdosing accidents on a routine basis are required to carry the antidote with them. Someone who has overdosed on fentanyl requires more than the standard amount of naloxone required in the case of opioid poisoning to get better. As the drug stays in the system for much longer, a second dose of naloxone could be required once the effect of the first wears off. Fentanyl and overdose deaths That fentanyl is responsible largely for the opioid deaths happening across America is evident from the research which used mortality data from National Vital Statistics System. It found that compared to 2010, when fentanyl involvement in overdosing fatalities was 14.3 percent, it jumped to 46 percent in 2016. Thus, nearly half of the opioid overdose deaths could be attributed to fentanyl. Fentanyl and its mixtures have overtaken prescription opioids and heroin in terms of the number of drug overdose deaths. While prescription opioids were responsible for 40 percent of the deaths in 2016, heroin accounted for 36.6 percent of the deaths.

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