Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sullivan
At the beginning of the opioid epidemic, there was concern that fentanyl was being laced into other illicit drugs. Now, times have changed. People are seeking out and intentionally using fentanyl due to its extreme potency. It’s a way to get a strong high – however, there have been consequences.
In 2019, roughly 73% of overdose deaths were attributed to some type of synthetic opioid (like fentanyl). And, you’re here for one of two reasons, you’re using fentanyl and want to make sure that you don’t overdo it, or you’re doing research.
If you or someone you know is taking street fentanyl, consider stopping immediately.
If you need help to quit fentanyl, call us at (385) 327-7418 and speak with an addiction specialist about detox centers near you.
How Much Fentanyl Will Kill You?
The amount of fentanyl it takes to overdose is not an exact science. First of all, every person’s biological makeup and history is different. Some will be more predisposed to overdosing on a small amount of fentanyl, and there will also be those who have a higher opioid tolerance and may not be affected as easily.
Overdose factors include:
- Weight and Height
- Other drugs potentially in the system
However, as a rule, just 2mg of fentanyl has been known to cause overdoses in otherwise healthy individuals.
Using Fentanyl is Like Playing Russian Roulette
The fact remains that using fentanyl is like playing Russian roulette. You might not die today, but you never know when it could happen. But why is that? The main reason is that fentanyl is produced illegally in clandestine labs.
These clandestine labs that manufacture fentanyl are not regulated, and frankly, most do not care about anything other than profit. What happens in these labs is that when the fentanyl is created, it is often done so in a way where figuring out a true potency is impossible. If the fentanyl is not mixed correctly, one blue pill that’s supposed to be 1 mg could have 10 mg of fentanyl in it.
As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl was initially created for medical purposes only. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was designed for pain management in cancer patients. However, like most pharmaceutical drugs, people found a way to re-create and sell unsafe mixtures on the streets illegally. Therefore, there must now be a clear distinction between pharmaceutical fentanyl and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.
Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily produced in Mexico. As fentanyl overdose cases began to rise in California, drug trafficking has continued to fuel the national drug crisis causing record-breaking overdose deaths in the United States.
How Fentanyl is Used
Fentanyl increases dopamine levels in the central nervous system, resulting in lower pain perceptions, increasing euphoria, and relaxation. It is most commonly used as an additive for other street drugs. Heroin is often the mixture drug of choice, though it can be added to other street drugs.
As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl is about 100 times stronger than morphine. This can seem enticing to those who suffer from extreme pain; however, fentanyl is so powerful that the average human can only withstand so much.
To answer the big question, “How much fentanyl does it take to overdose?” The fentanyl overdose amount is 2mg, which is fatal to the vast majority of humans. Though the exact amount varies due to individual body types, testing that statistic is likely fatal.
High on Fentanyl
Fentanyl use gives intense and short-lived effects. Feelings of the euphoria associated with fentanyl use are temporary, causing an almost immediate craving for more.
Desired results include extreme relaxation, pain relief, and euphoria. However, they often come with harmful backlashes for manipulating dopamine receptors in the brain. Furthermore, street fentanyl’s illegal byproducts are commonly stronger than pharmaceutical fentanyl, causing worse internal damage.
The average period that a user would feel the drug’s effects is around thirty to ninety minutes, depending on individual body type. Individual factors contribute to the length of felt impacts. Factors such as size, weight, overall health, amount of fentanyl taken, use of other drugs, and previous use of opioids.
These factors have an impact on fentanyl’s effects, which answers why fentanyl affects everyone differently.
Fentanyl is Wiping Out Young American Adults
Amid the opioid epidemic, millions of Americans have developed a drug addiction, experienced a drug overdose, or died of one. The opioid epidemic was declared in 2017 and continues to recruit more addicts every day.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving opioids spiked from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017.
With 46,802 opioid overdose deaths in 2018, the opioid epidemic has continued to steadily claim as many lives as it can. Synthetic opioids claimed more than 31,000 lives in 2018, contributing to the overall drug-involved overdose death toll of 67,300 Americans in the same year.
Furthermore, CDC statistics state that both heroin and cocaine overdose deaths have been steadily increasing since 2014. This increase is due to the combination of cocaine and heroin with synthetic narcotics, and fentanyl is the number one synthetic choice of illegal manufacturers.
Law Enforcement Reports
In 2014, there was a total of 4,585 fentanyl confiscations, according to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System. Law enforcement concluded that the spike in fentanyl overdose deaths could only be caused by illegal manufacturing and distribution.
Since then, police confiscations have increased, with each state reporting twenty or more fentanyl confiscations at least every six months.
It is essential to know that these police confiscations and overdose death statistics do not include prescription fentanyl. Therefore, those who receive fentanyl from a doctor or a hospital setting should monitor their usage with their doctor to avoid accidental overdose.
Though the derivatives in street fentanyl are more intense than pharmaceutical fentanyl, the dosage difference between medically safe and deadly is incredibly small. There is no room for measuring mistakes with fentanyl, as even the slightest microgram difference could be lethal.
Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose
Overdose deaths are more common among fentanyl users than recoveries. This is due to the drug’s high potency, and the small variations in measurement indicate lethal versus non-lethal. Even in the medical field, there is a fine line.
If you or someone you know is using non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, consider stopping immediately. A person can die in their first dose, and those who take street fentanyl are trusting an illegal manufacturer to have measured the amount correctly. Furthermore, as fentanyl is often used as a substitute or additive to heroin, buying street drugs is now a game of chance.
Fentanyl overdose signs include:
- Slowed breathing and heartbeat
- Extreme fatigue or unresponsiveness
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or confused
- Trouble walking or talking
If this should occur, you must get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. These overdose signs are incredibly dangerous and are likely to be fatal if left untreated. Do not wait; get help immediately.
Side Effects of Fentanyl
Though fentanyl is highly addictive, most illegal users do not live for long after addiction develops. As a disease, addiction rewires the brain to prioritize drug use above all else, regardless of who it hurts along the way.
Addiction manifests an inability to quit using drugs, no matter how hard someone tries. Therefore, if someone develops an addiction to fentanyl, the drug cravings become so intense that dosage and measurement safety are often not a concern. This tunnel-vision mentality is likely to cause an overdose death, and it can happen within minutes.
The list of side effects of fentanyl can be overwhelming. Common fentanyl side effects include drowsiness, confusion, constipation, dry mouth, sweating, nausea, and tightness in the throat.
Additionally, those prescribed the transdermal fentanyl patch often experience rash, itching, and swelling, especially around the patch site. Furthermore, other reported side effects of fentanyl include constricted pupils, difficulty concentrating, decreased heart rate, and slowed respiration.
These side effects can be dangerous if left untreated. If you are experiencing these side effects from pharmaceutical fentanyl, alert your doctor so you can be monitored for safety. However, if you are using non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, you should consider going to a hospital as these side effects can cause serious health risks.
As with most drugs, withdrawal symptoms can begin about half a day, but they often peak a full day or two after the last dose. However, fentanyl is a case, as withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week or more.
Withdrawal symptoms include
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Dilated pupils and goosebumps
- Anxiety, insomnia, and agitation
- Severe generalized pain and hot and cold flashes
Relapse is most prominent when a user is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, as that is when the body craves drugs the most. However, fentanyl is incredibly addictive, and users often develop a tolerance to it more quickly than other drugs.
Increased tolerance is what causes users to take more of the drug to feel the same effects. In these moments, users often disregard measurement safety that can become a fatal mistake.
Call 911 immediately in the event of an overdose, as emergency responders can give you Naloxone, which can reverse respiratory depression.
Should You Risk Your Life?
Unless prescribed pharmaceutical fentanyl by a licensed medical doctor, you should stay as far away from fentanyl as possible. An exact measurement is imperative and is only meant for doctors and hospitals to prescribe.
Even then, the FDA declared a public health advisory about the brand name Duragesic and transdermal patches, as overdoses and death can happen. Children are especially at risk, as accidental exposure has a high fatality likelihood. Street drugs never come with warning labels; therefore, you must rely on education to keep you safe.
The lethal dose of fentanyl is 2mg to the average person. This is to say that 2mg of fentanyl will likely end in fatality. Furthermore, heroin and cocaine addicts are also in danger, as fentanyl is often slipped into these street drugs unbeknownst to the user. The likeliness of a fatal outcome is evident in the steadily increasing number of opioid overdose deaths, driven mostly by fentanyl.
Self-dosing fentanyl is most often linked to an overdose death. If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl use, consider getting help. Reaching out to an addiction specialist can provide education and resources about detoxing centers near you, with therapeutic rehab services to help you get away from fentanyl.
Overdose Can Happen Faster Than You Think
Opioid overdose deaths continue to climb, and fentanyl is likely one of the most dangerous drugs available on the street. People are often surprised by how quickly they can lose a loved one to fentanyl overdose, as even one-time use of fentanyl can be fatal.
Police reports indicate that there are bodies found with fentanyl needles still inside the injection site. Furthermore, the reports suggest this is a common occurrence, as fentanyl overdoses take minutes to kill someone.
If you or someone you know is using non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, watch for signs and symptoms of an overdose. If any of the signs listed above occur, call 911 immediately. Fentanyl misuse is not to be taken lightly; measurement missteps claim the lives of more people every day.
What Drugs Can Be Laced With Fentanyl?
Amid the opioid epidemic, addiction is recruiting more people every day. As a synthetic narcotic analgesic, fentanyl was initially created for higher pain management in cancer patients. However, there has since been illegal reproduction and distribution, accounting for the lives of thousands of people every year.
Though heroin and cocaine are likely to be mixed with fentanyl, this does not indicate that other street-sold drugs are safer. Finding fentanyl in several other street drugs is possible, inviting a gamble every time you buy illicit drugs. Remember the signs of overdose to prevent someone from possible death.
If you or a loved one struggles with fentanyl use, help is out there for you. Therapies and rehab services can help you identify your origin of use and work with you to get clean and sober.
Call us today at (385) 327-7418. You can do this, and we can help you. Please stay away from fentanyl; it is not worth risking your life.
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