Fentanyl is an effective opioid painkiller prescribed to help people suffering from severe pain. Unfortunately, it can also be extremely dangerous if misused.
Because of the abuse potential of fentanyl and the sometimes dire consequences, the government places strict controls on who can access it and under what circumstances. Here are some specific reasons that fentanyl is dangerous.
1. There is illicit manufacturing of fentanyl
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the unauthorized manufacture of illicit fentanyl takes place in clandestine laboratories. It then makes its way into illegal drug markets.
2. It is difficult to detect
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl takes the form of powders or liquids subsequently used to cut other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. This makes the drugs cheaper and more powerful but also more dangerous.
Because fentanyl resembles other drugs in liquid or powder form, it is difficult to tell by looking whether the drug contains fentanyl. The only way to know for sure is to test with fentanyl strips.
3. It is extremely potent
Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. This means that it is possible to overdose on a relatively small amount. The danger is greater with illicitly manufactured fentanyl added to other drugs because there are no controls on the amount of fentanyl added nor labels to describe how much fentanyl is in a particular drug.
Because fentanyl is so potent and the risks of overdose are so great, there can be severe penalties for possessing it in very small amounts compared to similar drugs.