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The Deadly Effects of Fentanyl

Becki on November 20, 2017

Consider this: Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl— continue to push the death count higher. The deadly effects of Fentanyl are starting to be a reality for many. In fact, drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016.

That’s why reaching a better understanding of fentanyl and the effects of Fentanyl on the human body has become an important focus for those involved in the opioid epidemic—for both researchers and opioid users alike.

Here’s another statistic that will put this into perspective: Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States last year. And fentanyl is playing a big role in those numbers.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to a recent report on fentanyl by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and 25-50 times more potent than heroin. And, its presence in heroin seems to be rising sharply, which means that overdose and death from the drug are also rising.

Fentanyl is mixed with heroin or cocaine because it’s much cheaper and much stronger.

And the problem lies in its potency: Fentanyl quickly binds to opioid receptors—much faster than morphine or heroin—and combined with its strength, it becomes much more lethal at lower doses. Even small excesses lead to overdose, and since it’s a street drug, the amount of fentanyl added to heroin is uncontrolled.

That means there is no way to way to predict how much fentanyl there is in any given dose of heroin. In some cases, since fentanyl is easier to make and transport, unsuspecting users are getting only fentanyl in the opiates they buy.

The Effects of Fentanyl on the Body

The cause of death from fentanyl is respiratory depression. And, the amount of fentanyl in the body determines how quickly someone will die from an overdose.

In opioids without the presence of fentanyl, a few times the therapeutic dose would slow breathing, and death would occur in several hours.

At 100 times the dose, you’d die immediately. That’s how overdoses of fentanyl work: It’s a more rapid version of respiratory death because of its potency.

Here’s the takeaway: Just micrograms of fentanyl are effective, rather than milligrams of the other opioids, so the margin of error is quite small.

Fentanyl on the streets street seems to be made in China and imported to the U.S. through Mexico. And because it’s synthesized, rather than plant-based, it’s easier for dealers to make and distribute.

The bottom line is that users are putting a lot of faith in their dealers. A microgram is less than the size of a pinhead: anything more than that can be deadly.

If you need help for an addiction to Fentanyl, Simple Path Recovery can help today!

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