What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?
Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid that is approved for medical use by the FDA for pain relief. In a medical setting, fentanyl is useful in treating pain following surgery or in those suffering from cancer.
Fentanyl binds to the brain's opioid receptors in areas that control pain and emotions, producing feelings of relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, and sedation. These effects may also be paired with confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, pin-point pupils, slowed breathing, and unconsciousness. After taking opioids many times, the brain becomes less sensitive to the effects of the drug, causing the user to feel like they need more of it and making it difficult to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because of the potency, fentanyl should only ever be consumed at the direction of a doctor and as dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
Unfortunately, however, fentanyl is also made illegally. Fentanyl can be sold in powder or liquid form or made into pills that look like real prescription opioids. Illegal fentanyl is also being widely mixed with other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA.
This is extremely dangerous in considering the high potency of the drug and the ease in which a lethal dose may be added to various mixtures and other drugs. People are often unaware that fentanyl has been added to the pill or the powder they're taking, increasing their risk for overdose.