Fentanyl is the Deadliest Opioid You Haven't Heard About

The opioid crisis and its hundreds of thousands of deaths have made drug abuse front-page news. It was a central issue in last year’s presidential primary season. This is unlike any drug crisis in our history. People have long known about heroin, and lately prescription pain medications like OxyContin have crept into the public consciousness.

Recently, one variety of synthetic opioid not widely known has emerged as the most lethal narcotic of the bunch: fentanyl. To address fentanyl and other issues regarding the opioid epidemic in NJ, we hope you will join a PDFNJ/Horizon Foundation for New Jersey Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall in your area by clicking here.

Fentanyl’s potency is 50 times that of heroin - which it’s sometimes mixed with.  Adding it to heroin creates a deadly mix that is tempting to people addicted to other opioids; until it causes an overdose that takes them to death’s door and, all too often, ushers them through it.

One of the first times fentanyl made headlines was roughly five years ago, when a spate of drug deaths occurred in Philadelphia. Since then, it has been sold by drug dealers who promise addicts the highest of highs. Opioid-addicted individuals are also drawn into this lethal spiral.

As more and more overdoses occurred, even those with long-time addiction issues started to avoid fentanyl. A recent report by NPR in Massachusetts detailed how opioid users would detect fentanyl by its taste and avoid it.

Overdoses on fentanyl kill quickly. The person’s face goes blue in a matter of seconds. Compared to fentanyl, an opioid overdose occurs gradually as the drug slows the respiratory system. This provides time to try to revive the person. Tragically, fentanyl has no revival window.

New Jersey, like most states in the midst of this crisis has made available a drug that counteracts the effects of an overdose - naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan. A bill is awaiting Governor Christie’s signature that would create a standing order for pharmacies to sell lifesaving Narcan without a prescription. Some pharmacies in NJ have already been doing so for some time. With fentanyl in circulation making Narcan as widely available as possible is vital. 

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