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Fentanyl, a Silent Epidemic

Drug-related deaths have taken a toll on society like never before. Skyrocketing drug use and large instances of overdose has devastated many families. Among illicit drugs, fentanyl is a growing cause for concern. There is no public test for fentanyl as of now, so parents are compelled to run tests for all street drugs that can be possibly laced with fentanyl.

Affordable Rapid Testing offers discrete, same-day drug testing for your loved ones.

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid commonly found under the guise of other illicit substances. The drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than doctor-prescribed morphine. Clinical use finds fentanyl an alternative to morphine for chronic pain treatment and anesthesia. It was first produced in 1960 and in 1968 it was approved for medical use in the United States. Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic under the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Fentanyl and related drug abuse peaked in 2016 with over 20,000 deaths. According to DEA reports, 67% of deaths related to drug abuse between January 2021 to 2022 are a result of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
Fentanyl is widespread in the medical world as a pain relief, but the abuse of prescription drugs containing it is rampant in the United States. Each year witnesses a dramatic rise in the use of fentanyl in cases of drug overdose. People might knowingly or unknowingly consume an excessive amount of the chemical in the form of other recreational drugs. The use of fentanyl can be broadly classified under medical and recreational domains.
Fentanyl drug testing

Medical Use

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is known by names like Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®. They can be prescribed as shots, patches or lozenges to be ingested orally. Fentanyl can also be present in nasal drops. This chemical may also be used in the concoction for anesthesia before surgery. Fentanyl drips are commonly used for mostly direct relief of pain.

Recreational use

Fentanyl is the scientific name of the component used in medical and recreational drugs. On the street, however, it goes by many names. Common street names for fentanyl include China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, He-Man, Apache, Friend, Goodfellas, Jackpot, Great Bear, King Ivory, Tango & Cash and Murder 8.
Covertly manufactured fentanyl is in powder or tablet form. It may be sold separately or in combination with other drugs like Heroin and Cocaine to increase its potency. This unregulated and uninformed use of fentanyl is the main culprit behind overdose and death. The effects of fentanyl are discussed for further clarity.

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Effects of fentanyl

Fentanyl affects the areas of the brain controlling pain and emotions. Repeated use of the drug dulls sensory perceptions by binding with the opioid receptors in the brain. It becomes addictive when the brain loses sensitivity to other stimuli except for the drug. Drug addiction is the most severe form of Substance Use Disorder. In moderate doses, it has the following effects on the body:-
  • Sedation
  • Pain-relief
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression

Addiction to fentanyl has a range of contraindications that are too serious to ignore. When it is used in excess it raises life-threatening complications. Signs of opioid poisoning include pinpoint pupils, respiratory depression and coma, Severe use of fentanyl triggers hypoxia in the brain, which is the lack of oxygen carried by the tissues in the body. This condition is the most fatal outcome of fentanyl abuse and the individual is rarely resuscitated.

Illegal use of fentanyl

Fentanyl as an intoxicant is highly versatile. It mimics the effects of drugs like heroin and cocaine and is deceptively marketed under the guise of commonly found illicit drugs. Sellers mix fentanyl with other illicit substances to provide an edge to their products. Unaware drug users intake a lethal dosage of fentanyl that may result in an overdose, followed by death almost every time. Fentanyl is cheap and more intoxicating. Drug peddlers who use covertly manufactured fentanyl often sell it as similarly functioning opioids like morphine, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, etc.
The recent cases of fentanyl overdose can be traced back to shady, lab-made, synthesized forms of the chemical. They may be sold illegally in powder or pill form that looks like prescription opioids. They may also be sold in liquid form as nasal and optical drops.

Fentanyl epidemic

The CDC has provisionally estimated more than 109,000 deaths of drug overdose in a year till March 2022. More than two-thirds of the overdose deaths in a year till March 2022 were due to synthesized opioids like fentanyl. Drug testing has revealed that there has been an alarming increase of 80% in the past two years regarding deaths due to synthetic opioids.
Pharmaceutical fentanyl supplies are diverted to the illegal drug market and abused in various ways. This trafficking process includes the involvement of medical stakeholders, theft and fraudulent prescriptions. Besides oral and intravenous fentanyl, patches have been emptied of their contents to get high. Other than trafficking, fentanyl is also illegally produced in labs. In 2022, DEA issued a warning for what is popularly known as ‘rainbow fentanyl’. This is allegedly colorful candy laced with fentanyl targeting children.
The DEA identifies August 21 as National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day as a remembrance of lives lost to fentanyl poisoning and to warn the public about the devastation brought on by fentanyl abuse.

Testing and recovery

Fentanyl can be detected in urine for up to 24-72 hours of last use. Drug testing for fentanyl can be employed for:

  • Tracking of medication use
  • Monitoring drug use for quitting
  • Routine screening
Severe withdrawal symptoms can be observed in fentanyl addicts as early as a few hours after an attempt to quit. Medical attention and counseling are both helpful in this case. Urine drug testing is one of the most convenient methods of drug testing for fentanyl. If you or your loved one is trying to recover from fentanyl abuse, then confidential fentanyl urine drug testing is a prudent way to start the detox journey. For personal or professional reasons, Affordable Rapid Testing, Phoenix offers pocket-friendly, confidential and quick results.
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