Synthetic Opioid Fentanyl: The Drug Driving the Nation’s Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Communities across the nation are dealing with unprecedented rates of drug abuse and fatal overdoses in alarming numbers. Law enforcement and government officials have gone on record referring to the problem as an epidemic that reaches from coast to coast. While the use of drugs in general is on the rise, one particular class of drugs known as opioids is causing more than its fair share of issues. Opioids include prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet, as well as street drugs like heroin. Many experts now believe, however, that one prescription opioid—known as fentanyl—is now at the root of the problem.

What Is Fentanyl?

As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl is typically prescribed for patients dealing with severe pain. It was first developed in 1960 and entered the market as an aesthetic. The drug is currently sold under the brand names Actiq, Duragesic, and Fentora. Prescription strength fentanyl is estimated to be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

One of the biggest problems with fentanyl, however, is an issue it shares with other opioids. A dose that would kill one person may offer a level of pain relief to another. In addition, long-term use of drugs like fentanyl can build a tolerance in a person’s system, which means that more is needed to achieve the same results.

Why Fentanyl?

According to various reports, heroin is getting harder and harder to find in certain areas of the country. Fentanyl, by comparison, is much more readily available, as drug cartels have found ways to make the drug more easily and at a lower cost than making heroin.

Illicit drug manufacturers also mix fentanyl in with other drugs, including heroin and cocaine. In many cases, the end user is not even aware of the fentanyl until it is too late. Fentanyl overdoses can cause severe respiratory depression and arrest. When that happens, the user may be completely unable to breathe and may experience seizures and, ultimately, death.

Facing Drug Charges?

While the use of fentanyl under the care and supervision of a doctor is legal with a prescription, the drug is still very dangerous. Street versions are even more so because concentrations are unregulated and reactions are unpredictable.

If you have been arrested and charged in connection with the possession or distribution of illegal drugs, including heroin or fentanyl, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

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