Most people are familiar with or know someone that takes popular prescription drugs like Xanax or Adderall, but fentanyl may be one prescription drug that is not as widely used. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be similarly compared to morphine but is anywhere from 50 to 100 time more potent. Fentanyl is most commonly given as a prescription, although there are many ways of obtaining it illegally. Since it is a drug that is increasingly part of the mainstream of addiction, becoming educated on it is of major importance.
Fentanyl is typically used to treat patients who are in severe amounts of pain, often right after surgery and especially for those who may be physically tolerant to other opioids. Synthetic opioids, especially ones like fentanyl, have also become some of the most common drugs that are involved in drug overdose deaths within the United States. In 2017, fentanyl opioid-related deaths rose to 59 percent compared to 14.3 percent in 2010. With the increasing rate of fentanyl-related overdoses, what is driving the rise in popularity of this drug?
A few reasons that make fentanyl a popular choice is its versatility in form and injection process and how easily accessible it is now. When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can come in many forms, which make taking it easy. Fentanyl is most popularly seen as a pill, however, doses can range from an injected shot to a patch on a person’s skin or even as a lozenge that is sucked like a cough drop. Illegally, it is seen as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye-droppers or nasal sprays or made into gel form pills that are more easily digested. In addition, there are reports that other illegal, recreational drugs are often laced or cut with fentanyl. Fentanyl is starting to show up in other drugs such as heroin, meth, cocaine, and MDMA since it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl and is cheaper to do so. Avid users or drug purchasers may not be able to even tell the difference since the high that fentanyl can cause looks very similar to the ones that are created by other drugs. This can be extremely dangerous for people who are taking drugs who don’t realize that the mixture they are buying or using may contain fentanyl as an additive. Users may take regular or a higher dose of these mixtures, which contain the fentanyl, their body is not used to the fentanyl and they unknowingly put themselves at higher risk for overdose.
Fentanyl is a dangerous drug and users should be cautioned before taking it. Finding out more about its potential dangers and making sure that a doctor oversees its use is recommended. As one of the most significant factors in overdose deaths within the United States, making sure that it is used appropriately and safely may save many lives.