What is Fentanyl?

For years, drugs such as Fentanyl have been on the market and provided time and time again to ‘help people in need’. However, the name Fentanyl has become a little more embroiled recently as it has been attributed as ‘the drug that killed Prince’. When the music legend died last year, there was much work going on to find out what killed him.

Sadly, this synthetic form of opiate is doing a lot more harm than it could ever do good. It’s a hugely dangerous drug, and it’s so exceptionally potent as well. The opioid epidemic in America has been causing a lot of arguments about how drugs are handled in America, and this latest opiate-based drug has really revved up the discussion.

While the drug is extremely dangerous, the name Fentanyl itself is not widely known – even in drug circles. It’s been around since the 1960s, though, and nothing has ever really been done to curtail its usage or existence. Apparently the drug has 100 times the strength of morphine and even 30-50 times the power of heroin, it’s a drug that should come with an incredible warning sign.

Apparently, a single microgram could kill someone. It’s hugely powerful and has been become one of the poster boys for the battle again the opioid epidemic in the United States. It’s usually only suggested to be given to people undergoing extensive and severe pain, usually in a form of a patch to help them mediate the pain and find comfort in life.

However, other forms with far more variable doses are easily obtained in the wrong circles – and is having a critical, negative effect on many people. Having become easily made in Chinese and Mexican facilities before being imported, it’s actually used to help cut heroin in some of the worst places: leading to a concoction that kills.

Combating Fentanyl

In the mid-2000s, a minor epidemic of Fentanyl being used broke out in which around 1,000 people died between 2005 and 2007. The lab was shut down that made it, though, and the problem quickly stopped, and Fentanyl vanished into the background of the drug world once again.

By 2015, though, it was back as the DEA started to warn of a ‘growing epidemic’ amid a huge increase in Fentanyl-caused seizures. The huge volume of locations that were now making Fentanyl ensured that supply was increasing, as was demand. This came from the creation of OxyContin, a powerful painkiller that was edited to ensure it could not be abused, leading to those in need of a fix looking for other, more dangerous, sources.

Hundreds of seizures and overdoses have been recorded since 2015, and the drug itself has been gaining a lot of notoriety because of it. While some states, such as New Hampshire, are beginning to pass damning legislation to offer murder charges to anyone who provides Fentanyl to someone in a lethal dosage, there’s not enough being done to combat this growing problem.

As ever, the path to success stems from understanding why people are taking Fentanyl, rather than pushing them to crime because of their actions. Understanding, not lambasting, will make the difference in the long battle to come against Fentanyl.

Photo Credit: “DSC_0126” (Public Domain) by Dennis Yip