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Due to its incredible potency and potential for addiction, fentanyl plays a role in an ever-increasing number of drug overdose deaths in the US. Most of these unfortunate victims of fentanyl overdose do not start down the drug-using path by taking fentanyl; in fact, many of the individuals who OD on fentanyl do not even realize they are ingesting this specific drug. This is because fentanyl is most commonly encountered by illegal drug user as an agent added to heroin by drug sellers to increase its potency and reduce the cost of heroin production. Users think they are smoking, snorting, or injecting heroin, when it may be spiked with any number of substances, including fentanyl.

The Path to Fentanyl Overdose

Many of the heroin users who encounter fentanyl in this way actually begin their descent into fentanyl addiction by taking prescription opioids such as OxyCodone or Vicodin. This abuse can even begin as legitimately prescribed painkiller usage in response to an injury or illness. However, the prescribed usage can quickly turn into abuse due to the addictive nature of these drugs. And, once these individuals run out of their legitimate source of these medications, they often seek other illegal sources of opioids, often leading them down the path toward the less expensive option of heroin. Currently, much of the US heroin supply is cut with fentanyl, exposing countless individuals to the dangers of fentanyl overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse [1] fentanyl has many different street names such as Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.

illustration showing the different street names for fentanyl

The Deadly Potency of Fentanyl

Originally used as an anesthetic, fentanyl was quickly adopted as a painkiller by doctors who saw how effective it was at relieving pain, even when used in extremely small quantities. And, when used by trained professionals in medical settings, fentanyl has proven to be both effective and safe within a wide range of contexts. However, outside of this closely supervised use, fentanyl becomes incredibly dangerous, as very small quantities of the drug can be deadly to the user. As fentanyl becomes more widely available outside of hospitals, the death toll due to fentanyl addiction overdose has skyrocketed.

illustration showing salt shaker and 4 grains of salt enough for fatal fentanyl overdose

You Never Know Exactly What You’re Getting

Drug dealers don’t have finely-tuned lab equipment to assess the purity and potency of the fentanyl they mix into their drugs for sale. This means that even batches of heroin from the same dealer will vary greatly in potency when they are mixing in fentanyl. Therefore, even a “careful” drug user (as if addicts could even possess that kind of self-control and discernment when looking to get high) are likely to ingest a potentially fatal dose of fentanyl. Without access to a quick dose of Narcan or other opioid-blocker at the appropriate time, any one of these inevitable fentanyl overdoses can result in death.

bar chart showing the amount of Fentanyl seized at U.S. ports

Fentanyl Overdoses are Happening Everywhere

In the past, addiction to opioids such as heroin or fentanyl was often seen as an inner city problem that was confined to the urban parts of American. However, the recent surge in fentanyl overdoses has affected all parts of the United States, with rural areas suffering some of the worst impacts. In fact, one of the biggest fentanyl seizures in the US comes from the very rural state of Nebraska, where 118 pounds of pure fentanyl was confiscated by the Nebraska State Police in 2018. [3]

Other rural areas across the country have had similar problems with fentanyl overdoses. In 2016 in Ohio’s rural southwestern Butler County, fentanyl began regularly appearing in local batches of methamphetamine in addition to heroin, causing meth-related deaths to quadruple. [4]

illustration showing big piles of Fentanyl seized by the police

Don’t Become The Next Fentanyl Overdose Statistic

If you or a loved one is playing a deadly game of Russian roulette with fentanyl-laced drugs, the possibility of suffering a fentanyl overdose will keep increasing with each passing day. Don’t wait until it is too late; call today to make sure your loved one does not become the next fentanyl overdose statistic. Call us anytime 24/7 at 1-800-683-4457 to get fentanyl addiction treatment for you or your loved one.