Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is a name that’s now becoming associated with danger here in the UK, and there are good reasons for this.

This article will explore why fentanyl is so dangerous, providing information on where it comes from, how it works, and why it can be deadly.

What Is Fentanyl and Where Does It Come From?

Fentanyl was made in 1959 by Dr. Paul Janssen and was introduced as an anaesthetic medication in the 1960s. This synthetic opioid was first used to help people with severe pain, like those having surgery or with long-term pain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, another painkiller. This means you need only a tiny amount of fentanyl to ease pain.

Doctors prescribe synthetic opioids in many ways depending on the condition being treated. This typically is through medications such as patches, lozenges, and injections. When used correctly by doctors, fentanyl and other types of prescription opioids can be very helpful. But when misused, it becomes very dangerous.

How Common is Fentanyl Use?

Fentanyl use in the UK isn’t quite at the levels seen in the US, but it’s growing. This is one of the main reasons why it’s becoming an increasing concern.

In England and Wales, the most recent data shows that fentanyl was involved in 58 deaths. The biggest risk is that we might face a crisis similar to that seen with opioids in the US if preventive measures are not taken.

How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?

Fentanyl affects the body by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for controlling pain and emotions.

When fentanyl binds to these receptors, it reduces the perception of pain and increases feelings of pleasure. However, because it is so powerful, it also depresses the respiratory system, which can lead to slow or stopped breathing.

This is what makes fentanyl overdoses so deadly – without enough oxygen, a person can suffer brain damage or die within minutes.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your Body?

When someone takes illicit fentanyl, the body will immediately begin trying to break it down and get rid of it. However, this process can take longer depending on:

  • How much you took: More fentanyl means it stays longer.
  • Your body: Everyone’s body is different. Some people get rid of it faster than others.
  • How you took it: If you took it as a patch, it might stay longer than if you took it as a pill.

On average, fentanyl can be found in your:

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug for several reasons. Its strength, availability, difficulty in detection, and general lack of knowledge about it make it a growing threat. See below for more information.

Fentanyl’s Strength

Fentanyl is a type of painkiller that works by attaching to specific parts of the brain and spinal cord to block pain and create feelings of happiness. And as we mentioned earlier in this article, it’s much stronger than other painkillers. This means it works at very low doses, so even the smallest amount can cause a fentanyl overdose.

The problem is the amount of fentanyl that can make you feel better, and the amount that can kill you are very close. To put it into perspective, a fentanyl dose that’s the equivalent of a few grains of salt is considered a lethal dose to an adult. This makes it extremely dangerous because it’s easy to take too much by mistake.

Fentanyl Hidden Within Illegal Drugs

Fentanyl is very dangerous because it is often mixed with other substances. So, drug dealers who manufacture these drugs sell mixed fentanyl with heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine to make them stronger or to save money.

Many people who use these drugs aren’t even aware they contain fentanyl. This leads to accidental addiction to the substance itself and overdoses.

Hard to Detect

Fentanyl is hard to see because it can be mixed with other drugs in extremely small amounts that you can’t see or taste. Standard drug tests might not even find it, so people using or testing the drugs might not know it’s there until it’s too late, leading them to consume a potentially lethal dose accidentally.

There are test strips that can detect specific drugs, such as fentanyl. However, not many people use these strips yet. These strips can help users check the potency of their drugs before taking them, which could save their lives.

Fast-Acting and Deadly

Fentanyl works very quickly. When people smoke or inject it, it can affect them in minutes. This quick action increases the risk of overdose because users might not realise how much they’ve taken until it’s too late.

Can Fentanyl Overdoses Be Reversed?

Yes, it can. But it has to be a fast intervention using Naloxone.

Naloxone is a medicine that can reverse overdoses, including those from fentanyl. It works by quickly removing fentanyl from the brain receptors. Because fentanyl is so strong, someone might need multiple doses of naloxone depending on how much they’ve taken.

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Danger of Fentanyl?

Reducing the danger of fentanyl can be done, but it will likely require a number of different approaches. This may include:

  • Educating people about the dangers of fentanyl, including how potent it is and how easily it can cause an overdose.
  • Making naloxone more widely available and training people on how to use it can save lives.
  • Encouraging the use of drug testing strips as part of a harm reduction strategy. This can help users detect the presence of fentanyl in their drugs before using them.

Seek Support for Fentanyl Addiction Today

If you or someone you care about is struggling with synthetic opioids, reach out now. We are here to provide support and expert care to those who need it.

At Cassiobury Court, we have helped many individuals overcome drug abuse through our intensive addiction programmes, with our compassionate team providing the care and guidance required to begin the journey to recovery.