Fentanyl has become synonymous with the experience of the opioid epidemic. The synthetic opioid has been available as a prescription for many years. Up to 100 times more potent than morphine, the synthetic opioid was created to serve the need of medical patients who did not get pain relief from traditional morphine based opioid painkillers. As the opioid epidemic took off, fentanyl slowly became a problem. In 2016, overseas manufacturers got access to formulae for fentanyl and started mass producing it. Selling it as its own pill or lacing other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and Xanax with it, fentanyl became a household name because it has been claiming dozens of lives at a time. Within the course of a year, illegal fentanyl has become an increasing problem with increasing potency. Fentanyl has become so dangerous that the federal government issued a warning to all local police recently to handle the drug with the utmost care, according to USA Today.
“Accidental contact with a quantity equivalent to five or six grains of table salt can be deadly if inhaled or absorbed through skin abrasions,” the article cites. Local officers are being encouraged to wear gloves, masks, protective glasses, and more for protection against fentanyl. Recently, a new fentanyl analog was discovered and aptly named “Gray Death”. Combining all of the last year’s most recent forms of synthetic opioid, Gray Death is completely lethal. Fentanyl, carfentanil, W-18 and other potent synthetic opioids are all combined into one powder. The drug caused overdose on contact and inhalation.
Dangers of Fentanyl
By the numbers, the increase in fentanyl is almost overwhelming, which is why many local police and first responders are being put at risk. The article reports that:
Of 52,000 deaths due to drug overdose in 2015, an approximated 33,000 involved opioids like fentanyl
Advanced calculations for the drug overdose death rate in 2016 is expected to rise by 8,000 to almost 60,000
Between 2013 and 2014, the amount of fentanyl-related seizures has more than tripled
Since 2013 the number of fentanyl-related submissions to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System has gone up by 942 submissions, for a reported 3,344 submissions relating to fentanyl.
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