Bumisuka.com – The Fentanyl Disaster in the US and Why Fentanyl is Dangerous. Recently, news circulated about the deaths of many citizens of the United States (US) on the streets of Los Angeles. The cause of death was attributed to a fentanyl overdose.
Citing the website of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of death from overdoses of synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl and other drugs, have increased. Based on CDC data, an overdose of synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl, caused more than 71 thousand people to die in 2021 and 57 thousand people died in 2020.
Basically, fentanyl is an effective drug if used according to a doctor’s prescription. Unfortunately, this drug is also produced illegally so it is widely abused. So, why can fentanyl drugs be dangerous? Check out the facts below.
1. What is fentanyl?
Fentanyl belongs to the class of synthetic opioids. Reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is a drug that can only be obtained by prescription to reduce severe pain, especially after surgery. This drug is also used for other severe pain, for example in patients with advanced cancer. Fentanyl is prescribed and given as a transdermal patch or injection.
Fentanyl is a very potent synthetic opioid pain reliever. According to the CDC, this drug is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
2. How fentanyl works
Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the body. These receptors can be found in areas of the brain that regulate pain and emotions.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says, after using opioids several times, the brain will adapt to the drug so that the effects are reduced.
Continuous use of fentanyl can make it difficult for someone to feel pleasure other than using fentanyl. These conditions make a person become addicted and use illegal drugs.
3. Cases of fentanyl overdose in the US
There are two types of fentanyl, namely pharmaceutical fentanyl which is used as a treatment and fentanyl which is produced illegally. The CDC explains that the vast majority of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths in the country are due to illegally produced fentanyl. More than 56 thousand people died from synthetic opioid overdoses in 2020. This number has increased 18 times compared to 2013.
Fentanyl is produced and marketed illegally because it has effects similar to heroin. In addition, these drugs are often mixed with other illegal drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, with or without the user’s knowledge with the aim of increasing the euphoric effect.
This is very dangerous for those who use illegal drugs because they do not know the contents in them. When using fentanyl in excess of the dose acceptable to the body, an overdose can occur.
4. Why is an overdose of fentanyl dangerous?
As previously explained, fentanyl can cause an overdose if it is used in excess of the dosage it should be. Overdose can occur when a drug produces serious side effects and causes life-threatening symptoms.
When a person experiences an overdose of fentanyl, the rate of breathing slows or even stops. Slowed breathing will certainly reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain. When that happens, it can trigger brain damage, coma, to death.
5. How to deal with a fentanyl overdose?
Fentanyl can depress the central nervous system and respiratory function. Indiscriminate use of fentanyl as in illegal drugs can cause an overdose.
Overdose from fentanyl can be treated with an antidote called naloxone. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote for all opioid-related overdoses, including fentanyl, if given promptly. However, fentanyl is much more potent than other opioids such as morphine, so higher doses of naloxone may be required.
Basically, fentanyl is a drug that is used to treat severe pain and is safe to use as long as it is under the supervision of a doctor. However, misuse of illegally obtained drugs can lead to overdose. An overdose of fentanyl makes the breathing rate slow down and even stop, which can lead to brain damage, coma, and even death.