The Dangers of Fentanyl

The U.S. Government’s data shows that fentanyl overdoses are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 – 45. This is a harsh fact, as over 70,000 people in that age range died from the drug between 2020-2021. “Overdose deaths continue to rise across the United States. To bring an end to this crisis, collaborative public health and public safety solutions are needed within communities,” says Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This article will explain what exactly the dangers are and how to prevent more deaths due to this deadly narcotic.

The first thing to know about Fentanyl is that in the right dose and under the care of a doctor, it can really help people who are in constant severe pain, such as patients with cancer. As much as it can help, it does have negative side effects. It can cause people to breath too slowly, have bladder problems, extreme drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and with too high of a dose, it can kill someone. Because of its pain-relieving abilities, it can also lead to temporary feelings of euphoria.

Surprisingly though, not a lot of people are specifically buying fentanyl for this reason. Usually, they are buying heroin and it ends up being laced with the drug or the buyer “takes the word” of the dealer. Heroin and Fentanyl look very similar especially in pill form; therefore, it isn’t a thought that comes to a user’s mind in the moment. This makes the drug very dangerous to buyers who aren’t aware that they are consuming it.

Many articles have come out recently that bring up the threats of rainbow-fentanyl being put in children’s Halloween candy. Fortunately, experts have calmed this concern saying that there would be no motive to poison children. The dangers of fentanyl, however, are still very real to teens and adults that buy hard drugs.

Fentanyl can be fatally dangerous. In fact, it is nearly impossible for someone to know if another drug was laced with it. Fentanyl cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. The only way that it can be detected is if the buyer tested their drugs with a Fentanyl test strip. These strips could save a user’s life. The test strips are affordable and can be tested with drugs in powder, pill, or injectable form. They take up to five minutes, but it is recommended to be tested with another strip afterwards to make sure the results are accurate. There are a lot of different Fentanyl test strips so the steps may vary, but a quick google search can provide the steps needed. These test strips can be bought at local health departments.

Most people have, at some point in their lives, heard about something bad happening to someone and thought ‘yeah, but that couldn’t possibly happen to me’. This mindset can be dangerous, especially to someone using drugs, because they may not feel it’s necessary to use a Fentanyl test strip since ‘something bad couldn’t possibly happen to me’. There are other ways to lower the risk of an overdose besides using a test strip though. For example, talking with a healthcare provider about being prescribed naloxone, which is an emergency treatment for an opioid (Fentanyl) overdose. Avoiding mixing different drugs is also an easy way to prevent a potential overdose. One of the simplest and most obvious things is to not use drugs, especially of you are alone. If there is even one person with you that is sober and in the right headspace, they could get help faster than if you were alone.

As much as it is important to know how to prevent an overdose, it is also important to know what one looks like. Some of the most common symptoms are an inability to speak, faint heartbeat, vomiting, or shallow breathing. The more appearance-like symptoms include having very small pupils, pale skin, and purple lips and fingernails. The most important symptom to look out for is if someone becomes unconscious. Many might think the person is just tired, but most likely if they have been using more drugs than someone should, they have fallen victim to an overdose.

As of right now, Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the U.S. On April 21, 2022, President Biden released a national drug control strategy to help treatments of those who are addicted and to help save lives. Biden says, “It’s time we treat addiction like any other disease. And at the same time, we are disrupting drug traffickers’ financial networks, supply chains, and delivery routes, including on the internet.” Let us not forget that, as teenagers, we may feel something bad could never happen to us, but we are not as invincible as we think we are. If you were to take anything from this article, let it be that we are all in control of our lives. We have the power to make good choices, prevent overdoses from happening, and help others to receive treatment. Fentanyl has been the cause of many preventable deaths for a couple of years now, and we have the power to stop that.