Ask most people what the most dangerous street drug is, and they are likely to answer cocaine, meth, or heroin. But there is a drug that many people have never heard of that is far more deadly: fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. You read that right. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. For comparison, methadone is about 3 times stronger than morphine, and heroin is about 5 times stronger.
Fentanyl should only be used under a doctor’s direct care. When used appropriately, fentanyl is a powerful pain mitigator. Fentanyl is used mostly in cancer patients or those suffering from terrible chronic pain.
It is incredibly easy to overdose and even die on fentanyl. Like heroin, fentanyl binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. However, the chemical make-up of fentanyl allows it to arrive at opioid receptors much faster, and it adheres more tightly to the opioid receptor than other opioids.
What does this mean?
Fentanyl induces a high much quicker in the body than other drugs, and it takes far less of the drug to produce a high. It is also more addictive than heroin. It also means that a tiny dose of fentanyl can result in death. In fact, merely coming in contact with fentanyl in the air can result in an overdose, as an unfortunate Ohio police officer learned. It was only through the quick action of his partner and paramedics that the officer survived.
Given how lethal fentanyl is, why would anyone try it? Most people don’t know that they are taking fentanyl.
As compared to heroin, fentanyl is very inexpensive. A kilo of heroin costs around $50,000, whereas a kilo of fentanyl only costs $3,000. Pill ‘pressers’ substitute fentanyl in their pills and powders for more expensive drugs. The result? Drug users who think they are buying Xanax or Oxycontin are actually buying fentanyl-laced drugs. The problem is so widespread that drug dealers often don’t know that they are selling drugs containing fentanyl.
The bottom line: If you are purchasing a drug on the street, you cannot know if the drug contains a potentially life-threatening dose of fentanyl without fentanyl test strips.