The recent rise in heroin and opioid related overdoses is largely blamed on the drug itself. While this seems like a reasonable conclusion for many, others have become aware of a new drug to hit the streets and realize that it’s the newcomer that may really be responsible for such a spike in recent overdoses. It’s called fentanyl, and it’s being added to street-sold heroin – making the user experience even more dangerous. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is highly potent, and it’s being added to heroin or just taken on its own. Whereas it may take many milligrams of heroin to overdose, it only takes trace amounts of fentanyl to reach overdose levels.
Don’t Blame Users
Our country’s drug epidemic doesn’t look like it’s going to be solved anytime soon, but the sooner we face this fact alone, the more time and effort will be spent focusing on new methods of rehabilitation and care for those who are battling such addiction. Regular heroin users are getting caught up in an even more dire situation than they were already in when they make a heroin purchase and expect it to be what they’re accustom to taking but are instead being given heroin that’s laced with the highly potent fentanyl.
Dealers are lacing with fentanyl because it takes a very small amount to get a very big effect which makes it easier to produce a cheaper, stronger drug that’s much more addictive than heroin on its own. The fentanyl high is very intense and short-lasting for the most part, which those who are dealing are very aware of. It’s for this reason that much attribution is being placed on the dealers for their role in the rise of opioid overdoses.
Death of a Star
The famous pop star Prince recently died from an overdose of fentanyl. Perhaps he believed he was getting a different drug, or not, it’s uncertain, but the facts remain the same. Fentanyl is a highly potent, misused, and dangerous drug. When the press reported that fentanyl was discovered in Prince’s system, it was the first time many were made aware of the drug – at least by its proper name.
It’s very sad that it takes an event of this magnitude to bring about public awareness, but in a sense, it was a much-needed wake-up call for the public at large. Illicit drugs are being made stronger, last longer and act faster than before, and have become much more dangerous as a result. We can’t really predict what the next new or popular drug will be called or what it’s effects will be, but there are several “new” designer drugs hitting the streets now and they are carrying bigger and “badder” risk of adverse side effects, addiction, dependence, and even death.
Is Fentanyl Really the Problem?
All street drugs are dangerous, heroin laced with fentanyl more so. Opioids do have their place in the medical field but have no valuable place on the street. Fentanyl is designed to be prescribed only for the treatment of severe surgical and post-surgical pain via transdermal patch or low-dose oral ingestion as relief for physician-managed palliative care. Since there are other opioid-derived pain medications that are considered safer, fentanyl is rarely a physician’s first choice of prescription for the relief of pain.
Fentanyl is not the only threat out there for this group of opioid users. There is another version of fentanyl called sufentanil with approximately 5 to 10 times more potency than its own parent drug. Since sufentanil is so highly potent, when it’s used to lace heroin, the result is the creation of a drug with an extremely narrow range between getting high and overdosing.
Drug addicts have certain habits of behavior that are simply part of the addictive cycle. One of the cardinal characteristics of a drug addict is the inability to be completely satisfied with the high they just got from using. They often feel that no matter how much of the drug they take or no matter how high they got, there’s always a better high to be had with the use of a bigger dose.
With heroin, this used to mean that users would tend to nod off and fall into a deep sleep if they took too much. They would commonly stay asleep until their next dose, allowing the effects of the previously administered dose to wear off.
But with fentanyl or sufentanil, if the user takes just a little too much, the result is not to fall asleep but to overdose. And without immediate help, death is almost certain.
For assistance with fentanyl detox, contact Princeton Detox & Recovery Center today.
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Even More Danger
To make matters more frightening, the drugs fentanyl and sufentanil are not the only drugs that heroin and other street drugs are being laced with. Designer drugs such as U-47700 are hitting the streets at a record pace as well. U-47700 is a synthetic opioid that is almost ten times more potent than morphine. This means it’s also much stronger than heroin.
This epidemic of synthetic opioids and the lacing of various and more common street drugs is growing rapidly, and it’s become imperative to better educate the public of the new risks and dangers. It’s with great hope that the message will reach the masses and drug users will come to the decision that the high they’re getting is not worth trading for their life, and they make the choice to seek rehabilitation instead.