If you don’t recognize the word fentanyl, consider yourself lucky that you haven’t had to know it.
I just saw the Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher. The octopus, with its 8 tentacles, frightening to many, is much gentler than fentanyl; the octopus can recognize human warmth, and embrace it. The shark with its teeth is much more humane; the shark only kills and eats when it needs food and the animal is in its food chain.
I remember years back when our beloved Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Joey, had escaped from our yard and gotten hit by a car, survived, and managed to elude the crowd and limp his way home, on a broken ankle which, in a big dog, is quite large. The surgeon had placed a large rectangular transdermal patch on the site, and told us to remove it in so many days. He didn’t release Joey to us before giving us gloves, and under strict rules to wear the gloves when we remove the patch, and place it in a certain bag that he also gave us, to discard. What was this patch, I asked later, which was so dangerous to the touch.
Fentanyl, was the response.
Fentanyl is back in our vocabulary, this time because it killed my nephew last year.
Fentanyl is much more powerful than heroin, and it acts faster. Even if somebody had come in ten minutes after he had injected (or snorted, we’re still not sure which) it, it would have been too late.
Unlike the shark, fentanyl is not selective.
Naloxon can help as long as somebody else is around to administer it. And with fentanyl the Naloxon spray has to be administered within five to ten minutes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. I remember when medics administered morphine to somebody whose ankle had just busted due to a crazy fall down steps and her foot and leg hit a wall. She had been screening in pain. Within 30 seconds of that injection, the pain ended. Imagine fentanyl, 50-100 times more potent, and deadly.
While some addicts ask for fentanyl, many who buy opioids don’t know what they’re buying is laced with fentanyl. But these drug labs now producing synthetic opioids, lace so much with fentanyl. The Sinaloa cartel in Mexico laces its cocaine and heroin to boost its punch. Punches the user right out of this ever-expanding universe.
The coroner who did an autopsy on my nephew said fentanyl is a big problem due to Covid, because the distribution of these opioids has changed; it’s not just the Mexican synthetic drug labs now. Illegal opioids coming from China have increased and she’s seeing so many more fentanyl death than even in years prior, when the number of drug-involved overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids other than Methadone– primarily fentanyl — is now #1 (has skyrocketed.In 2020, the number of deaths from drug overdoses approched that from Covid-19.
My nephew had been counting clean days.
Now I am counting the months – which will turn into years – since he’s been gone.
Chart By National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63723508