What is fentanyl and why is it behind the deadly surge in US drug overdoses?

Of those, more than 70,000 were from synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl. In 2022, the US Drug Enforcement Agency seized brightly colored fentanyl pills and powder (“rainbow fentanyl”), demonstrating that fentanyl can come in various colors and formulations. Other strategies to prevent overdose deaths include lowering the entry barrier to addiction treatment, fentanyl test strips, supervised consumption sites and even prescription diamorphine (heroin). It’s also faster-acting and many times more potent than heroin and morphine, making it highly addictive and much easier to overdose. In fake prescription pill form, it can be mistaken for a safer drug.

Fentanyl test strips: where to get & how to use?

Even if you aren’t 100% sure, Narcan will not hurt the person if they aren’t experiencing an opioid overdose. After administering Narcan, it is still helpful to call for medical help. Opioids are pain killers that people sometimes use recreationally for their euphoria and relaxation effects. Fentanyl has medical uses, primarily to control severe pain after surgery and in advanced-stage cancer treatment.

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Opioids include multiple types of medications available by prescription, as well as illicitly produced or distributed drugs, such as heroin, fentanyl, or “look-alike” opioid pills. Opioid use disorder is an illness characterized by continued use of opioids despite negative effects on health and functioning. This can be a devastating and chronic illness; however, effective treatment is available. The number of individual pills containing fentanyl seized by law enforcement was 2,300 times greater in 2023 compared to 2017, with 115,562,603 pills seized in 2023 vs. 49,657 in 2017. The proportion of fentanyl pill seizures to the total number of fentanyl seizures more than quadrupled, with pills representing 49% of illicit fentanyl seizures in 2023 compared to 10% in 2017.

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  • There have been situations where people thought they were buying natural products, including weight-loss supplements, cannabis and anti-anxiety medications, and instead got fentanyl-laced drugs.
  • Something many people do not realize is that fentanyl is used safely as part of routine medical procedures every day – but it is administered by trained professionals who can accurately administer the correct amount.
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  • You’re then more likely to be okay than somebody who never takes these drugs, but there’s a point at which fentanyl is so potent that you would experience overdose effects.

U.S. Authorities Seized Over 115 Million Illicit Pills Containing Fentanyl in 2023

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. One measure to prevent fentanyl overdose is distributing naloxone to bystanders. Naloxone can reverse an overdose as it occurs by blocking the effects of opioids.

why is fentanyl so dangerous

For drugs in pill forms, you might be testing a part of the pill that doesn’t have fentanyl in it. If you test one pill from a bottle or bag of pills, that one dose might not have fentanyl in it, but the others might. Even if you don’t use opiates, or any drugs at all, you probably know someone who has been affected by addiction and overdose deaths. A 2024 survey from the RAND Corporation reported that more than 42% of adults in the US know someone who has died from an overdose. So even if you don’t have a firsthand connection to this widespread social problem, you probably know someone who does.

Opioid Addiction: Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

As an opioid, fentanyl travels through your blood to attach to opioid receptors in brain cells. It remains one of the most commonly used opioids in controlled medical settings or advanced cancer pain. Fentanyl also can increase feelings of pleasure, https://ecosoberhouse.com/ often referred to as euphoria. Other effects can include drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation and addiction. The package contained bags of pills that “tested presumptively positive for fentanyl,” a potent synthetic opioid, police said.

why is fentanyl so dangerous

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We will also cover misuse of fentanyl, addiction, and the risk of overdose. National news headlines don’t point to the city anymore as an epicenter of the nation’s drug epidemic. But Stevens still keeps a dose of naloxone in her purse, just in case. For people who are addicted to fentanyl, there are safe and effective treatments available.

5 things everyone should know about fentanyl Health & Wellness Services – University of Colorado Boulder

5 things everyone should know about fentanyl Health & Wellness Services.

Posted: Wed, 14 Jun 2023 04:20:12 GMT [source]

Prescription opioid analgesics

Scientists are also working on opioid vaccines that would cause a person to develop antibodies to particular opioids and block their effects. This would offer a new approach to treating substance abuse, but the results of this research will likely not be known for years to come. With the popularity how long does fentanyl stay in your system of drug dealers mixing fentanyl into other drugs, fentanyl test strips can help people who use drugs identify whether what they are taking contains fentanyl or not. These small, paper strips can be obtained at needle-exchange sites, are easy to use and only take minutes to interpret.

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