Across the nation, many people are suffering from addictions to opiates. However, more powerful than heroin and morphine is the drug fentanyl. Acetyl Fentanyl is an opiate that is mixed into street drugs and marketed as heroin. In fact, just a small amount can be fatal. Users typically use it intravenously as a direct substitute for heroin or painkillers. And, in some cases, users are seeking out fentanyl directly.
Increasing Rates of Fentanyl-Related Overdoses
Yet, experts haven’t figured out that fentanyl has played a role in deaths and overdoses until recently. However, as they examine spikes of emergency room visits and overdoses in recent years, they recognize that many of those overdoses may be due to the use of fentanyl – or least due to the fact that other drugs were spiked with fentanyl. According to the New York Times, last year fentanyl killed 158 in New Hampshire, and was a contributing factor in an additional 120 deaths, while during the same time period, heroin killed 32.
Health officials in various states have been struggling with how to address the opiate addiction, which up until recently included the use of prescription pain pills and heroin. However, now fentanyl is adding another element to the spreading epidemic. Historically, fentanyl has been used in medical settings to treat extreme pain. However, this drug has been introduced to the United States illicitly over recent decades. And drug users are seeking it out – they want the higher fix at a cheaper price.
Fentanyl is the strongest opioid approved for medical use in the United States, rated as 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse. And earlier this month, information was released indicating that singer/songwriter Prince accidentally died of the drug.
Experts are still unclear how Prince came into possession of fentanyl. According to NBC News, the pop star died from a self-administered dose of the drug, which may or may not have been prescribed. Apparently, at the time of death, Prince was being treated for opiate withdrawal.
According to research, just a quarter of a milligram of fentanyl can be fatal. Comparatively, one tablet of aspirin is 325 milligrams. One quarter of a milligram is an incredibly small amount which has proven to be a deadly dose for Prince and others. In fact, fentanyl has killed more than 700 people nationwide between late 2013 and early 2015, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Furthermore experts explain that although Prince died from the drug, his accidental death highlights the dangerous potency fentanyl and brings it into the attention of the public eye.
The Need for Sober Help
Just as opiates has been the center of attention for the public, politicians, and health experts, now fentanyl can be also included in the prevention of further opiate addiction.
If you or someone you know is using an opiate of any kind illicitly, you may be at risk for losing your life or the life of a loved one or family member. Fentanyl is a dangerous substitute for heroin and it is an all too powerful pain medication. To avoid addiction, physical harm, and possible overdose seek professional support today.