Painkillers are everywhere in the US. The ingestion of these drugs is more common that the use of any other type of medicine. Analgesics are commonly made out of opioid substances, and Fentanyl is a potent synthetic version that is getting more popular every day since the effects are similar to those produced by morphine.
However, Fentanyl is quite more strong than morphine. Scientists have revealed that Fentanyl is at least 80 times more potent than morphine and between 40 to 50 times stronger than 100-percent-pure-heroin. Since the drug is so powerful, it also means is very dangerous, and the use of the most potent painkiller in the market was limited to cancer treatment, where patients used the substance under strict medical control.
Fentanyl on the streets
Fentanyl, however, is no longer an only prescription drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revealed with concern that the substance is being produced illicitly in order to be sold as a street drug and is representing a severe threat to health and public safety.
Casual users of drugs are now testing Fentanyl, and the effects go from a powerful high to death. In California, the problem is now a health crisis. In a time period of 12 days in March, around 10 people died from the use of pills of fentanyl and more than 50 got affected with overdose. The overdose is extremely dangerous and more cases are appearing in the 50 states.
Since heroin abuse is already a huge problem in the U.S., the DEA is concerned about how heroin consumers may change to Fentanyl-type drugs in order to get stronger highs. The DEA issued a nationwide alert of Fentanyl and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory in order to support health providers to understand the threat.
Law enforcement is in danger as well
The DEA stated that Fentanyl is extremely dangerous even to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it, so the police activities made to directly attack the drug trafficking networks producing and importing the drugs actually put in danger the officers that have to be in contact with the substance. In a video released by CNN, the DEA showed the heavy equipment police officers and DEA specialists need to use in order to handle the product without being exposed to health risks.
What can be done in case of an overdose?
Naloxone is, so far, the only medication that has proven a positive effect in blocking the effects of opioids. So the CDC invited health providers to use Naloxone as the emergency substance to counteract overdoses on Fentanyl. This substance works reversing the effect that Fentanyl has on the central nervous and respiratory system. The Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project trained about 6,000 people on how to use Naloxone, and are working to make it accessible to people vulnerable to drug abuse.
In 2014, only in Ohio, 514 fentanyl-related deaths were detected. New Hampshire has an index that surpasses heroin-related death five times. Florida, Maryland and other states have lost hundreds of lives due to the use of Fentanyl on the streets.