What is Fentanyl?

It is a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe dependency.

Typically used to treat severe pain or manage pain after surgery, it is sometimes used to treat chronic pain. Originally, physicians prescribed the drug for cancer patients and other debilitating pain. Its use has been extended to include those needing moderate to severe pain management.

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Prescription Brand & Street Names

Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze® are the prescription names for the drug. On the street fentanyl or its analogs (related on a chemical level) can be called Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango & Cash.

Fentanyl Overdoses in Canada

Its misuse is a growing concern in Canada. Reports of death from overdose occur regularly. British Columbia declared a public health emergency after overdoses killed 200 people in the first three months of 2016. A total of 5,368 apparent opioid overdose deaths occurred from January to September 2021. This is approximately 20 deaths per day

There was a 95% increase in overdoses in Canada during the first year of the pandemic. Since then, the number of deaths remains high. Many were not hard-core users but recreational users who did not recognize overdose symptoms. Which are drowsiness, difficulty breathing, and slowed heartbeat.

Fentanyl in the USA

In  2020, there were 68,630 overdose deaths. The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued a Health Alert Network Advisory to medical and public health professionals to counteract the epidemic.

“(1) substantial increases in drug overdose deaths across the United States, primarily driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone (hereafter referred to as synthetic opioids), likely illicitly manufactured fentanyl;.

Canada is now the second-largest user of prescription opioids globally, surpassed only by the US.

How do people use it?

It is often administered through injection, transdermal patches, or tablets when prescribed by a physician. Whereas street fentanyl and its analogs are made in clandestine laboratories. These products are sold in the following forms:

  • powder;
  • spiked on blotter paper;
  • mixed with or substituted for heroin;
  • or as tablets that mimic other, less potent opioids.

It is consumed by;

  • swallowing,
  • snorting,
  • injecting,
  • or blotter paper absorbed through the mucous membrane.

When sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine. This markedly amplifies its potential dangers.

Some side effects can include;

  • anxiety,
  • dizziness,
  • dry mouth,
  • headache,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • tightness in the chest,
  • seizures,
  • irregular heartbeat,
  • trouble breathing
  • and death.

Fentanyl, How Worse Can It Get?

Different factors contribute to worsening the overdose crisis throughout the pandemic. It includes the increasingly toxic drug supply and increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety. Also, there have been changes in the service availability or accessibility in the communities for people needing help with drugs. Hopefully, we will see a decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths in the near future.

If you know someone who is abusing this drug and looking for a private drug rehab, call us for help.

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Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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1 888-488-8434
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