Synthetic opiate painkillers like fentanyl are often prescribed to patients who are battling with severe pain or injury. Although such medications work quickly to relieve excruciating pain, they come with side effects, such as addiction. Fentanyl has a high potential for abuse due to its ability to cause the state of euphoria and relaxation in users.
And now a new strain of fentanyl has recently entered the United States market, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the fentanyl analog could be resistant to opioid reversal drug Narcan. This has left the authorities and the law enforcement officers extremely worried about the repercussions of using fentanyl with such high potential for abuse.
Overdosing incidents on the rise in America
Over the past several years, America has been dealing with an opioid epidemic that has shattered millions of lives. According to a recent report in the New York Times, there were more than 59,000 drug overdosing deaths in 2016. Till date, Narcan has been considered as the most effective opioid antidote. An antagonist, it effectively blocks the opioid receptors of the brain and unlike other medical-assisted therapies, it is not liable for abuse.
Between 2014 and 2015, overdosing deaths from synthetic opioids increased by 72 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts believe that fentanyl overdosing happens faster when compared to other drugs. While issuing a warning about the dangers of acryl fentanyl, North Dakota Police Interim Chief Jerry Boyer said, “Narcan is not the 100 percent fail safe that people may think it is, it does not always work.”
It is still being speculated whether or not acryl fentanyl overdosing can be effectively countered by Narcan. According to Agent Patrick Trainor, from the DEA’s office, acryl fentanyl “has shown some possibility of being resistant” to Narcan, however, there was not enough information to be 100 percent sure because of the newness of the drug.
Measures to control fentanyl overdosing
Fentanyl is hard to distinguish from other drugs in powder or pill form. For most users getting their supply of heroin from drug dealers, finding out whether the heroin they had ordered was laced with fentanyl is akin to picking a needle from a stack of corn.
Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than heroin. According to Anna Lembke, M.D., faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine, playing with one’s life is not worth the ensuing high. “Even if you knew what you had was pure fentanyl powder, it is impossible to differentiate a lethal dose from a non-lethal dose with the naked eye. Advanced scientific equipment is needed to measure fentanyl accurately,” she said. Lembke also recommended the following measures in case someone intended to use fentanyl recreationally:
- Ensuring that the user is not experimenting with the drug alone
- Ensuring that needles are clean
- Having naloxone to prevent accidental overdosing.
- Getting a treatment when need arises
Leading a drug-free life is possible
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “medication is an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.” Naltrexone proves to be highly effective for those who want to stay opioid free.
If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of illicit drugs, contact the California Drug Addiction Helpline to know about the best drug rehabilitation centers in California. These centers offer comprehensive treatment programs for addiction-related problems, addressing the underlying problem and controlling the risk of relapse. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1946 to get details of the most effective addiction treatment centers in California or chat online for expert advice about the best treatment options in your area.