Fentanyl: The Drug killing faster than Heroin

Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid analgesic that has a swift onset and short period of action. Fentanyl is a powerful agonist at the μ-opioid receptors. Fentanyl is projected to contain 50 times the strength as pure, pharmacy-grade heroin and approximately 100 times the potency of morphine.

According to a recent discovery by the Ohio Department of Health, this powerful opioid was responsible for over 1,100 deaths in 2015 alone. This is occurring at an alarming rate. This number has more than doubled stats from the previous year. Fentanyl is now second only to heroin when it comes to drug-related deaths statewide.

The drug was first obtained by law enforcement in smaller quantities, typically as an element that heroin had been spiked with.  No death related to fentanyl was recorded by the Ohio Department of Health until 2007 with only four reported causalities that year.

Within a short period of time, the drug has risen to be responsible for more deaths in 2015 than other prescription medications, like codeine or oxycodone.

When heroin is taken, you actually do not know what you’re really taking. Even though prescription medications may be dangerous at times, but there will still be an element of quality control.

Dealers also have a greater profit margin with fentanyl and promise users a better high. Even though no one is advertising its sale on the media, but lots of street marketing are going on.

  • Uses

Fentanyl is used as a recreational drug. This has resulted in nothing less than a hundred of overdose deaths every year in recent years. Although, some deaths have occurred as a result of improper medical use. Fentanyl has a relatively large therapeutic index (270). Intravenous fentanyl is used for analgesia and anesthesia. Fentanyl transdermal patch is used in chronic pain management.

This makes it a very safe surgical anesthetic provided it is monitored cautiously. However, its extreme potency needs careful measurements of highly diluted fentanyl in solution. It may be hard to accurately determine the right amount of pure fentanyl powder dose. This is impractical without making use of advanced scientific equipment.

Fentanyl permeates the blood-brain barrier faster than heroin. Its chemical composition, although similar to heroin, makes it more powerful. The substance is often recommended to advanced cancer patients to help them in terms of pain management.

  • Adverse effects

The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose are almost the same as that of a heroin overdose. Fentanyl’s most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, asthenia (weakness), dry mouth, constipation, somnolence, confusion,  Seizures, Clammy skin, Severe drowsiness, Pinpoint pupils, Low blood pressure.

Other adverse effect of fentanyl’s overdose are Respiratory reduction, Slowed heartbeat, sweating, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, anorexia and weight loss, nervousness, dizziness, anxiety, hallucinations, flu-like symptoms, depression, dyspnea (shortness of breath), dyspepsia (indigestion), apnea, hypoventilation, and urinary retention. Fentanyl use has also been related with aphasia.

  • Treatment

Just like with any opiate, naloxone can be used in deactivating the effects of the drug. Naloxone has now been supplied to police and EMTs in lots of major U.S. cities and, though effective, may not be applied in time so as to avoid death. Naloxone may also have to be given frequently in fentanyl-suspected overdoses because of the potency of the drug.

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