It’s the kryptonite of even the resilient drug addict, who’s raised his or her substance tolerance to extreme levels. Heroin and opiate abuse are dangerous enough on their own. Aside from the inherent risks involved in scoring opiates illegally, there are further health risks when the drugs are used, from gangrene and MRSA in injection abscesses to hepatitis and HIV from sharing needles. All of this is in addition to the damage opiate abuse does to the body, including damage to the brain and nervous system. Yet there is one substance is exponentially stronger than these.
Fentanyl is a very powerful synthetic opiate used for pain treatment, particularly in patients who have become tolerant to other opiates over time. When administered clinically, in injection, lozenge or patch form, it is a fast and effective way to treat chronic pain. When misused, fentanyl’s strength is frequently lethal: the Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the drug’s potency at 100 times that of morphine and 30 to 50 times greater than heroin.
The problem for addicts is that fentanyl –often produced in underground labs in the U.S. and abroad– is often added to heroin and other street opiates to increase their potency. The DEA reports more than 1,000 deaths between 2005 and 2007 were attributable to fentanyl produced in a single underground lab in Mexico, which was later dismantled.
Fentanyl is often sold as heroin as well. It’s a growing trend; the National Forensic Laboratory Information System reports that state and local law-enforcement labs catalogued 3,344 seizures involving fentanyl in 2014, a sizeable increase from 942 in 2013. Deaths attributed to fentanyl-laced opiates are increasing nationwide, too; the DEA reports Philadelphia officials announced at least 28 people died after using fentanyl-laced heroin in that city in 2014. That same year, law enforcement officials reported that fentanyl played a role in at least 50 fatal overdoses in Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Fentanyl in Florida
Fentanyl has touched Florida as well. In Sarasota and Manatee counties, 73 people overdosed in 2014 from fentanyl and heroin, the Herald Tribune reported. Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel reports fentanyl-related deaths in Osceola and Orange counties increased 26 percent, from 18 in 2013 to 34 in 2014. Three men were recently charged in Brevard County for selling fentanyl as heroin. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said the sales resulted in 14 overdoses.
The symptoms of use and overdose of fentanyl overlap with those of other opiates. And not everyone who has an overdose is a substance abuser – there have been cases of pain patients mistakenly prescribed fentanyl that later overdosed. Symptoms of overdose include troubled breathing, slowed heartbeat, cold and clammy skin, difficulty with walking and talking and dizziness and confusion.
Fentanyl has become a large problem in the U.S., particularly with opiate addicts. The Florida Detox Helpline can assist anyone struggling with drug addiction, including addiction to opiates. Free consultation is available to anyone looking for help. If you or someone you know is struggling with issues related to opiates, please call us as 855-920-9869. One of our treatment specialists will help find an appropriate treatment program for your needs.