Fentanyl has been around for 50 years in it’s legal form. It is a synthetic alternative to Morphine and it is 100 times more powerful. It is also 50 times stronger than Heroin. It is also know to be highly addictive. It is commonly prescribed as a skin patch, lozenge or through a intravenous drip for chronic pain. In the late 1970′s and 80′s what is considered outlaw chemist developed a twist on Fentanyl in their private labs which they called China White. This form of Fentanyl mimicked the high of heroin and the actual potency of it made it extremely attractive for street sales (Schaefer, Swickard, n.d.). However, this powdered form of Fentanyl is also so powerful that an extra grain can cause a dose that is very lethal. Every couple of years street Fentanyl takes the lives of more than a dozen substance abusers (Schaefer, Swickard, n.d.). The number of deaths relating to it is on the rise. There has been 22 in Pittsburgh, 37 in Maryland and 100 country wide in the past year (Zaretsky, 2013).
Street Fentanyl is typically used when the Heroin supply is running low and it is usually mixed with the heroin. However, there have been some cases that Fentanyl was sold under the name of Heroin (Zaretsky, 2013). Fentanyl laced Heroin looks different from pure Heroin and it can be seen by the color. The Fentanyl laced Heroin has a minty green tinge color while pure Heroin has a yellowish or dusty brown color.
So why is it so dangerous, some may wonder? When drugs are combines there are three possible effects that can happen which can make them dangerous. The substances can act independently of one another which may not necessarily cause complications such as drinking alcohol while taking vitamins. Second the combination of substances can happen because they may affect the brain the same way or because one substance increases the concentration of the other in the body. This means that some substances may become more dangerous when they are mixed because their effects are compounded together and they increase the way they affect the body which can lead to overdosing. Combining substances can also decrease the intended side effects. This happens if one substance blocks or prevents the other substance from working properly. The substances can also have opposite effects on the brain (Here to Help, n.d.).
With all the dangers a person may wonder why does a person keep using? For a person that abuses substances there is an emotional experience that is powerful and they are flooding their dopamine receptors. They experience the sense of euphoria, and after that experience they start craving that experience (Olmstead, n.d.). Then the consequences begin to happen and the person using is not able to make a completely logical decision to stop doing the very thing that is causing all the damage and consequences. They start to lose the ability to react rationally to the problem that has a solution (Olmstead, n.d.). Some people are able to stop a behavior that causes them consequences, however people that have a substance dependence try and try again. Sometimes they are successful with the right treatment and good recovery support.
Dangerous Drug Combinations. (n.d.) Here to Help. Retrieved from file://C:/Useer/FIRSTS~1/AppData/local/Temp/Low/85XDBAY0.htm.
Olmstead, Mark. (n.d). The Toxicity of “Should.”.
Schaefer, Jim. Swickard, Joe. (n.d.). A Deadly path Fentanyla-laced Heroin Left Fatalities Nationwide. Down on the Pharm. EMS Village. Retrieved from http://www.emsvillage.com.
Zaretsky, Mark (2013). Connecticut Police put focus on Fentanyl, dangerous drug being passed off as Heroin. The New haven Register. Retrieved from http://www.nhregister.com