A recent news report featured the frightening news of an alleged 28 deaths in the Columbus, Ohio region from prescribed Fentanyl. Even though there are protocols in the hospital for regulated doses there was a physician who prescribed “grossly excessive” doses of this very powerful drug. The result was that these patients died, many prematurely.
In a world where drugs are so readily used we find that we or our loved ones could easily be subject to opioids that can be addicting or even fatal. Fentanyl is a particularly powerful drug that anyone should be wary of. Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is typically used to manage severe pain such as cancer or for patients who are on pain management protocols and in palliative care. For those who use illicit drugs Fentanyl is sometimes mixed with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine that is often hidden from the user.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention here are some of the statistics regarding synthetic opioids:
- In 2017, more than 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States, which is more deaths than from any other type of opioid.
- Also in 2017, the largest increase in synthetic opioid overdose death rates was in males aged 25-44.
- Deaths from synthetic opioids significantly increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia from 2016 to 2017.
- West Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire had the highest death rates from synthetic opioids.1
Whether prescribed or illicit, fentanyl can be an extremely dangerous drug to consume. I recognize that it has been commonly used for conditions in certain patients. However, the addictive power, the potential fatal consequences and the devastation to friends and families make this drug extremely volatile. Unfortunately, the number of deaths by overdose of fentanyl is still increasing and creating havoc for many individuals and their families.
It is important to continue to raise awareness about these drugs. We are still experiencing an epidemic of addictions and deaths due to drugs like fentanyl. As consumers of medical drugs we need to continue to be informed and careful about what we consume and what our family members are prescribed that can have such powerful and devastating effects. We not only need to be good consumers but constantly measuring the risks of pain medications like fentanyl.