It’s hard to discuss the ongoing overdose epidemic without mentioning Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that is much stronger than heroin. It’s responsible for almost 32,000 overdose deaths in the US in the last year alone. But despite it’s increased use many people still don’t know much about this drug. Here are some things about Fentanyl that everyone should know.
Its Roots are as a Legitimate Medication
Like many popular recreational drugs, Fentanyl was actually developed and used as a legitimate medication. It was first developed in 1959 and introduced to the US as an intravenous anesthetic in the 1960s. It’s a significantly stronger painkiller than morphine and is used to manage severe pain in patients. However, it is now also illegally produced and trafficked into the US, which has caused major issues.
Use of Fentanyl is Growing
Fentanyl use has been growing in recent years. A major reason for this is due to the shortage of heroin and prescription pills. It’s also cheaper to produce than heroin. Because of this, many illicit drugs these days are cut with Fentanyl so that they are stronger and use less of the more expensive drugs. This “cutting” is a major reason fentanyl contributes to so many overdose deaths. People are not aware that the drugs they are taking are cut, causing them to accidentally overdose.
Fentanyl is Extremely Deadly
It is shocking how little fentanyl it takes to overdose. It can be lethal in doses as little as two milligrams. That’s equivalent to a few grains of sand. When people unknowingly consume fentanyl-laced drugs, they tend to take their usual amounts. But because it is cut with this powerful drug, it’s stronger than they realize leading to an overdose.
Its Often Trafficked into the US
Legal fentanyl is heavily controlled in the US, but that hasn’t stopped people from getting it. Fentanyl can be purchased on the dark web, but it is also often imported from Mexico and China. China was a major production hub of this drug for many years but it has been cracking down recently.
Fentanyl is Responsible for Many Overdose Deaths
The US has always had drug overdose deaths, but those numbers have risen rapidly after Fentanyl became popular on the drug market. Fentanyl has also played a role in many celebrity deaths. Musician Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose, as did rapper Lil Peep, musician Tom Petty, and rapper Mac Miller.