In the U.S., synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the most common drugs responsible for overdose deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 59% of opioid-related deaths are from fentanyl.
If you have a substance abuse disorder or face criminal charges due to illicit substances, it helps to know where fentanyl fits in.
Is fentanyl illegal?
Fentanyl is not always an illicit substance. Doctors can prescribe fentanyl as an injection, lozenge or patch. Physicians may prescribe it to patients who struggle with chronic pain if they have a tolerance to other types of opioids. However, if you do not have a prescription or purchase it from a dealer, manufacturers create it in a lab as synthetic fentanyl.
Dealers may even mix fentanyl with heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine. When people do not realize the mixing of fentanyl increases the risk of an overdose.
How does fentanyl affect you?
When using fentanyl, the drug binds to your body’s opioid receptors. Your opioid receptors control your emotions and your pain. When you take the medication, your brain adapts, making it more difficult for you to feel pleasure in anything else in your life. You become more focused on the satisfaction derived from the drug.
Fentanyl can cause extreme happiness but also drowsiness, confusion, sedation, unconsciousness and trouble breathing. It can also result in people lapsing into a coma.
Often, dealers sell fentanyl in the form of a powder, drops on blotter paper, nasal sprays or eye droppers. Sometimes, they may sell them in pill form to make them look like natural prescription pills.