Fentanyl, drugs made from it, are the number one drug that causes overdoses in the U.S. This drug is 100 times more powerful than morphine. It was created for use as an anesthetic and for chronic pain medication.
This powerful drug started becoming abused in the 1970’s. Today, over 12 types of fentanyl have been found in United States drug trafficking. The drug is relatively inexpensive for drug dealers to create and the profit margin is much more than heroin and other opioids. This drug has has fueled the opioid epidemic that our country is struggling with. It is becoming so potent that many medical professionals don’t know how to fight it.
The danger of the drug is how it affects our bodies. It takes affect quickly and it causes a major decrease in respiration, which can lead to cardiac arrest. It is so quick and powerful that a couple of states want to use fentanyl in executions.
Treating fentanyl addiction
Experts are divided on exactly what to do about this powerful opioid. Some have advocated increasing doses of methadone or buprenorphine (so a user can’t get high off fentanyl), or increasing access to these medication-assisted therapies. Others are pushing for a new fentanyl vaccine. In lab tests, the vaccine appears able to produce antibodies that clear fentanyl from the brain and prevent an opioid reaction. It is unclear if this vaccine will work for all the fentanyl variations but more testing needs to be done before it’s used on humans.