What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an opium-derived pain reliever first synthesized in Belgium in the late 1950s. It is a powerful narcotic that is almost 100 times stronger than morphine. It was first used in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic, but its medical use was strictly regulated as it is one of the most potent drugs ever created.
There are four main types of fentanyl in medical use today. Most are for constant delivery of pain relief and used to combat the excruciating chronic pain associated with many types of conditions. The most common type of use for fentanyl is in treating chronic pain with the Duragesic Transdermal Patch, a small device applied directly to the skin that releases a specific amount of the drug every hour.
Unfortunately the potency of fentanyl has led it to become one of the most abused drugs in the United States. Many people addicted to other opiates embrace the low cost and the high power of fentanyl, and over 12 illicit types of the drug are known to exist. Unregulated fentanyl is extremely dangerous because its effects have a much shorter duration than heroin which causes abusers to crave more and more of it.
Overall, fentanyl is a safe and effective drug, so long as the proper precautions are made to prevent overdose. Unfortunately the single largest accident involving fentanyl came in 2004 when certain Duragesic patches suffered a manufacturing defect that risked exposing patients to concentrated doses of the drug. If you or someone you know uses a Duragesic patch, contact a medical professional immediately. You may be at risk.