When talking about the opioid crisis, you may have heard the “f” word a few times. Fentanyl has been a main contributor to overdoses and deaths in the United States. What makes it different, though, is the number of lives it has taken over the past few years.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that was developed to help patients manage their pain. This drug is not found naturally and was created in a lab to make the desired side effects more effective. Fentanyl can be taken through an injection, a patch, or like a hard piece of candy. Common brands of Fentanyl include Actiq ®, Fentora ®, and Duragesic ®. While this sounds like a great solution for those suffering from pain, it can have deadly consequences.
Why It Hurts More Than It Helps
There is a time and place where this drug has its benefits, but like other opioids, it can be highly addictive. According to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine as an analgesic.” In comparison, oral hydrocodone is roughly 1.5 times more potent than oral morphine. If you can get faster and better relief, this may seem like the most effective way to treat pain. However, the more you take it, the more your brain will get addicted to it. Also, you may have to take it in larger doses to overcome the tolerance you have built. Perhaps the biggest reason Fentanyl has become such a danger is it being in powder form. The powder is highly concentrated and even the smallest amounts can be fatal. When “snorted” through the nose, the drug is not metabolized in the same way and hits the bloodstream faster and more intensely. For some, coming in contact with Fentanyl may be unintentional. According to CNN, “A police officer in East Liverpool, Ohio, collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after he brushed fentanyl residue off his uniform, allowing the drug to enter his system through his hands.” Instances like this make you realize that Fentanyl is a dangerous and prevalent drug in our society.
The Numbers Say It All
There are so many stories of overdoses and deaths that it seems like it happens multiple times a day. Unfortunately, this is the reality. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, stated “We have a 9/11-scale loss every three weeks.” in relation to the number of opioid overdose fatalities. While the events are devastating in their own way, an average of 1,231 people died from a drug overdose every week in 2016.
What Can Be Done?
Being informed and informing others of this issue is the first step. Reach out to your local and state governments to voice your concerns. Stand up against the manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and physicians who contribute to the overprescribing of this drug. The more we talk about this, the more we can come together to help those in need.