What Exactly is Fentanyl and Why It Is So Dangerous?

Prince, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith – all names that are synonymous with fame, fortune, and – unfortunately – overdoses. A new dangerously powerful prescription drug called fentanyl is sweeping the country and claiming lives. Everyone is talking about it but, really, what is fentanyl and what makes it so dangerous?

What Exactly is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that has a rapid onset and a short duration of action. Usually prescribed to patients that are dealing with severe pain. The potent drug works to reduce a patient’s perception of their pain and induces a state of euphoria and extreme relaxation. It is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and up to 50 times more potent than heroin. It can be fatal even if taken in small amounts.

How Dangerous is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is considered a Schedule 2 drug which is typically used for pain management in cancer patients. It’s the kind of drug that has a high potential for substance abuse and addiction. As mentioned, it can be fatal even if taken in small amounts, and accordingly with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s usually mixed with cocaine, heroine or even both when sold illegally. Sometimes the user doesn’t even know about these drug mixes and that makes the consumption even more dangerous. An overdose of this drug causes severe respiratory depression or even arrest. The person’s breathing slows down or simply stops altogether. A dose that can provide medicinal pain relief for some people will be lethal for another. Due to this and considering how strong the drug is, this is one of the most dangerous drugs available.

Is There a Solution?

In March 2015 the Drug Enforcement Administration sent an alert about the dangers of fentanyl. According to a New York Times article, fentanyl was becoming a “drug of choice” for cartels. Cartels had found a way to produce fentanyl cheaply and easily than they were producing heroin. And at that time they were producing the drug at a record pace. Having it on the streets on the black market is a serious threat and can be a problem for authorities on the near term. If not stopped soon, Fentanyl can become a new epidemic drug. And if that happens, the consequences for addicts and the society as a whole will be much higher than the current problems society has with heroin and cocaine.