Fentanyl: All it Takes is One Time
A student, Jane, walks into an after dance party and the music is blaring.
She sees a group of friends and makes her way over. One friend has some blue colored pills, saying they’re oxycodone. A friend cajoles, “C’mon what’s the harm, we’re all doing it!” Jane says she’s going to sit this one out, but then thinks, “Hey, what’s the big deal.” She tries it. Jane, who first drifted off to sleep, is dead. What happened? Unknown to Jane, the drug contained Fentanyl. Given Fentanyl’s toxicity, one time may end it all. By the time the medics arrived, it was too late.
The risk of death related to Fentanyl increased significantly between 2012 to 2019. In 2012, Fentanyl was determined to be the cause of 4% of all accidental intoxication deaths in Connecticut. Today, Fentanyl is responsible for 78% of all intoxication deaths in Connecticut. In other words, Fentanyl is the primary reason for accidental deaths in Connecticut, have skyrocketed from 357 in 2012 to 1088 in 2019. Fentanyl is flooding the market and making its way into many other drugs, from pharmaceutical to “street” drugs. The Connecticut market is filled with a plethora of counterfeit pharmaceutical pills, which contain Fentanyl.
But Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid. It is fifty times stronger than heroin, and just one 2 milligram dose can be lethal. Dealers combine Fentanyl, an inexpensive additive, with many other drugs to maximize profit. Fentanyl’s wholesale price is $6 per gram and heroin’s wholesale price is $60 per gram. The street-level price for Oxycodone is $1000 per gram. Swapping two pills that look exactly the same, but differ greatly in cost, is profitable for dealers. Dealers also combine Oxycodone and Fentanyl to make a greater profit instead of using pure Oxycodone. Six hundred and sixty six thousand six hundred sixty six one-and-a-half milligram pills can be manufactured from one kilogram of Fentanyl. In fact, these pills are often manufactured locally by drug dealers, using their own mixtures and pill presses. Since it is so commonly present on the market, even smaller scale drugs, like cannabis, now have a much higher risk of being contaminated by Fentanyl than 10 years ago. Every time someone makes the choice to ingest any form of il- legal drug, that person is put at risk of ingesting Fentanyl.
At the end of the day the common questions such as: Will I get addicted?, Is one time really going to matter?, or, Will I die? can all be answered simply. With Fentanyl pouring into the market, the answer is yes. Yes, Fentanyl is highly addictive, and yes, one time could even kill you. Drugs that are not traditionally lethal may contain Fentanyl without the knowledge of the dealer or user. With this uncertainty, taking any drug is unsafe. Is that one time experience worth death?