This week, my peeps & I will be talking about Fentanyl on Twitter for Drug Fact Friday. Just in the last couple of days, another OD from powdered fentanyl laced heroin has popped up. This time in North Dakota. Most of the commentary misses the mark. This is not some new fad, or the product of kids looking to get new kicks in their opiate usage. This is a dangerous trend, stemming from one simple factor, decreased quality heroin being cut with fentanyl, resulting in respiratory arrest.
Here’s the thing about heroin. It’s a really, really old drug. Heroin has this generalized depressive effect on the nervous system that many (in fact, 100% of) people find pleasant at low doses. Fentanyl is a much newer, much more precise drug developed for pain management use during surgery. This drug has a much higher rate of respiratory arrest, but clinically this side effect doesn’t matter because a lot of the people who are getting it are usually under general anesthesia and hooked up to heart lung machines. This is a key point that I think most overlook. These users are going to keep using heroin, especially after they’ve become addicted to legal pain killers. That’s not going to stop happening. They can’t afford to go back to pills, and withdrawal sucks ass. So, even if you know it’s cut, you’re still going to use it. And therein lies the problem.
The drugs killing people are the bad pain killers and cut heroin, in this chart provided by DrugAbuse.gov (that’s right, even they can’t ignore the problem). This problem is caused, directly, by the use of legal pharmaceuticals to cut illegal drugs. I can qualitatively guarantee there are no groups of teens out there going “You know, I like everything about heroin, but I’m not getting enough respiratory distress.” There aren’t recreational fentanyl users. There are heavy heroin users who will start using more potent opiates, but no one is seeking this out. But because markets don’t care what drug laws say, people keep getting it. For more info, join #FENTAFF on Twitter, to chat with Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle.