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Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is the world’s deadliest opioid. Why is fentanyl so dangerous? This drug is responsible for over half of opioid overdose deaths. Fentanyl is 50 to 300 times more potent than morphine. Designed for pain management, fentanyl is manufactured under the names Abstral, Duragesic and Subsys. Most overdose cases and deaths occur in those who had no idea they were ingesting the drug. Fentanyl overdose rates are now 2.5 times higher than heroin. 

What is Fentanyl?

Initially manufactured in Belgium in 1960, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, such as methadone, and was approved by the FDA in 1968. In initial usage, fentanyl was administered intravenously as an anesthetic, Sublimaze. A transdermal patch was developed some years later. Why is fentanyl so dangerous? Illegal manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl began in the late 1970’s. One form of fentanyl, carfentanil, is up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine. 

Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Reports about law enforcement and medical personnel overdosing on fentanyl after the slightest contact with the smallest amount of the drug have been grossly exagerrated. Still, fentanyl is highly dangerous. For instance, it is fairly common that drug users who are wholly unaware that their drug of choice contains fentanyl experience overdose and even death.

Fentanyl mixes into heroin, cocaine, and illegal prescription medications. In fact, its adaptability is one reason why fentanyl is so dangerous. Illegally manufactured fentanyl comes in the form of candies, blotter paper, pills, powders, nasal sprays, and eye droppers. Young users may unknowingly expose themselves to fentanyl from attractive offers over social media that say nothing about fentanyl.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Use

One quickly feels the effects of fentanyl after ingestion. Therefore, there is very little time to treat a fentanyl overdose. Recognizing that a person might be living with a fentanyl addiction begins with awareness. Behavioral, psychological, and physical signs and symptoms to be aware of regarding opioid usage include:

  • Impairment of judgment
  • Chronic constipation
  • Nodding off
  • Itchiness of skin
  • Weight loss
  • Slowed motor and cognitive functions
  • Needle marks
  • Troubles with concentration
  • Withdrawing from interactions with family and close friends

Why is fentanyl so dangerous? There is a small window for intervention when the overdose of fentanyl is concerned. The time frame for treatment causes first responders and law enforcement officers to carry with them the opioid antidote Narcan or naloxone for treatment.

Signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Extreme sleepiness, inability to stay awake, fatigue
  • Respiratory distress, difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion and  a sense of dizziness
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Coma or unconsciousness
  • Cyanosis (blue tinged skin)
  • Cold or clammy feeling skin

One other factor to understand is what to do with a suspected overdose victim. You should call 911 immediately, but if the victim is unconscious, moving them to a recovery position would be helpful. The recovery position places the victim on their side, bending the knees as if they were in the fetal position, and resting the head on top of the arm. This position reduces the chance of choking. Even with a quick reaction time, it may not be enough to save a victim.

Statistics on Fentanyl

With the emergence of this opioid emergency, researchers have been gathering data to educate the public with the knowledge of why fentanyl is so dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that overdose deaths caused by fentanyl doubled in the six-month period from the end of 2016 to the summer of 2017.

Why is fentanyl so dangerous? A glance at the following statistics will magnify the scope of this opioid emergency:

  • 53% of all overdose deaths involve fentanyl
  • Overdose rates involving fentanyl increased 1,105% between 2012 to 2018
  • High profile deaths from fentanyl overdose include rockers Prince and Tom Petty, MLB pitcher Tyler Skaggs, author Michelle McNamara, and rappers Lil Peep and Mac Miller

Concerned About the Dangers of Fentanyl?

In conclusion, if you are in Tennessee and worried about a possible opioid addiction problem with yourself or a loved one, contact us at Tennessee Valley Recovery today. Time is an important element in the recovery from addiction. We offer experienced professionals who can assess and direct you to a treatment program that just might save your life. Our Medication-Assisted Treatment program can be readily applied to treating those with a fentanyl or opioid addiction. Contact us with your questions so we can begin the separation from the dangers of substance abuse.