When fentanyl was first starting to generate some media attention, the synthetic opioid was a good thing. It was a popular and extremely effective method to treat extreme pain. Doctors commonly prescribed it post-surgery, and patients with advanced cancer often used it to help control their pain. When used in a medical setting and under close supervision, fentanyl is a good thing.
The problem is that illicitly manufactured fentanyl isn’t used in a medical setting.
Fentanyl is extremely popular amongst the manufacturers of illegal drugs because it’s similar to heroin but even more potent. It is extremely common for heroin, meth and cocaine to be laced with fentanyl. The addition of fentanyl enhances the effect of the other drugs. According to narcotics experts, fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. The addition of fentanyl makes the other drugs extremely popular on the street and allows dealers to charge a premium. The problem is that fentanyl also makes the drugs more dangerous.
The CDC estimates that 150 people suffer a fatal fentanyl overdose every single day. The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose are:
- Extreme nausea
- Repressed breathing
- Constricted pupils
- Choking sounds
If help is not received shortly after the first signs of a fentanyl overdose, the victim will lose consciousness and stop breathing. If they still don’t receive help, they will pass away. If you are near someone who has taken a suspected fentanyl overdose, calling the paramedics and dosing the victim with Narcan can help them survive the experience. According to LiveScience, Narcan is an effective treatment for fentanyl overdoses, but in 89% of the cases, more than one dose was required.
One of the reasons fentanyl is so dangerous is that some people don’t realize that they are using drugs that are laced with fentanyl or the fentanyl amount is higher than anticipated. The best way to detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs is to use fentanyl test strips which are relatively inexpensive and provide results in approximately five minutes. While the test strips are highly effective when determining if a supply of heroin or cocaine is laced with fentanyl, they won’t provide you with information about other popular and dangerous additives such as carfentanil.