Fentanyl, the Killer Drug: What You Must Know to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe
Fentanyl exists as the most powerful prescription opiate on the market. Typically prescribed to treat conditions involving severe pain symptoms (like cancer), fentanyl’s potency level runs 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Not surprisingly, fentanyl abuse has greatly contributed to today’s high opiate addiction and overdose rates.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, opiate-related overdose deaths increased by 80 percent between 2013 and 2014, with a grand total of 5,500 fatalities occurring in 2014 alone. During this periods, drug raids continued to turn up increasing amounts of fentanyl with as many as 4,585 fentanyl confiscations in 2014.
Under these conditions, it becomes all the more critical to gain an awareness of fentanyl in all its forms as well as the potential dangers associated with fentanyl and opiate abuse in general.
Fentanyl Derivatives & Their Effects
Prescription fentanyl is available under a number of brand names, most of which act as anaesthesias for use during surgery. The most commonly used brands include:
- Alfenta, or alfentanil
- Wildnil, or carentanil
- Sufetna, or sufentanil
- Ultiva, or remifentanil
All of the above drugs are considerably more powerful than fentanyl. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the strongest of the opiates pose the greatest risk for overdose fatality due to their ability to shut down the body’s respiratory system.
Dangers of Street Version Fentanyl
While fentanyl in pill form is dangerous enough, the heroin that’s sold on the street today may well be laced with fentanyl or even replaced with fentanyl or one of its derivatives, according to Harvard Health Publications. As addictive as heroin is, fentanyl’s potency level carries a much higher addiction potential than heroin.
In effect, fentanyl doses as small as .25 milligrams can be fatal, whether smoked, snorted, shot up or even absorbed through the skin. Ultimately, fentanyl abuse in any form places users at ongoing risk of addiction, overdose and death.
Abuse & Addiction Potential
Today’s increasing opiate abuse and addiction rates reflect how easily a person can fall into the opiate abuse cycle. With regular opiate use, the brain requires larger and stronger doses of the drug to produce the desired “high” effect, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This is how someone can start out popping the occasional codeine tablet and end up snorting heroin two months down the road.
This snowball effect places anyone who abuses opiates on a path to the dangers that heroin and fentanyl bring.
More than anything else, the widespread distribution of prescription opiates has set the stage for today’s opiate addiction epidemic. Keeping an eye on prescription drugs in the home can go a long way towards spotting signs of potential drug abuse.
Loved ones going through difficult emotional periods or high stress may also be vulnerable to the lure of opiate abuse so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. While these measures may seem somewhat extreme, once addiction gains a foothold within the home, everyone suffers in one way or another.