What is fentanyl? This is what you should know about the drug 50 times more powerful than heroin

What is fentanyl?  This is what you should know about the drug 50 times more powerful than heroin

Opioids have wreaked havoc in the United States and Puerto Rico is no exception, according to Carlos Rodriguez Mateohead of the Addiction and Health Services Administration (Assmca).

But there’s one narcotic in particular behind most opioid overdose deaths: fentanyl, a drug the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more than morphine.

“It is an extremely powerful opioid and, in the illegal world, manufacturing is cheap, so fentanyl is being mixed with other substances, such as cocaine and heroin. This is what is leading to all these overdose deaths,” explained Rodriguez Mateo.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used to treat chronic pain, was linked to more than 400 of the 521 opioid overdose deaths in 2021, reported today, Sunday, The new day.

Some cases of overdose occur when users of drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, consume substances that have been mixed with fentanyl, without knowing that the synthetic opioid has been added, Rodriguez Mateo emphasized.

Overdose deaths, however, are not solely due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, the Assmca administrator clarified.

“When we talk about opioid medication overdose, people quickly think of the illegal world of the drug. We are not exempt from the fact that a person is legally using an opioid and that it can cause some type of overdose ”, he abounded.

Effects of fentanyl

Prescribed fentanyl is typically administered through injections, pills, or patches, while the illegal version is sold as powder, pills, or liquid in droppers, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). English).

Once distributed through the bloodstream, fentanyl binds to receptors found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. The effects, according to NIDA, include euphoria, extreme happiness, confusion, respiratory depression or respiratory arrest, and loss of consciousness, among other symptoms.

Signs of an opioid overdose, according to the CDC, include small or constricted pupils, loss of consciousness, slow or weak breathing, choking sounds, spots on the skin, a limp body, and cold or clammy skin.

Using Narcan, a version of naloxone

There is a medicine with the power to save lives in cases of opioid poisoning: naloxonea drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. The drug, according to the CDC, can restore normal breathing in two to three minutes to a person whose breathing slowed or stopped due to an opioid overdose.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this year approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan, the first naloxone product approved for non-prescription use.

“Narcan is administered in a safe intranasal manner, just as medications for asthma or sinusitis are administered,” said Rodriguez Mateo.

The Assmca, among other initiatives, has trained and delivered Narcan to third sector organizations that work with populations that use opioids, said the agency’s administrator.

“We have to continue to carry the message that the Narcan saves lives. and that no one is exempt from being in a scenario where there is an overdose event,” he said.

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