Fentanyl Poses Great Risk to Law Enforcement

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With methadone clinics popping up in more and more cities in every state to help those struggling with addiction, the opioid crisis in America seems to be taking a new and more threatening turn. While many people have heard of heroin and the dangers of its use, fentanyl is less known, but the buzz about this incredibly deadly drug is growing with the rise of overdose cases around the country. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s even more dangerous than many may realize because a tiny amount of two milligrams can be fatal for a grown adult. To put it into perspective, this is what a lethal dose of fentanyl looks like compared to that of heroin:

How do people come across fentanyl?

Medicinally, the drug is used along with anesthesia and for postoperative recuperation pain management. People who have been on long-term opioid pain treatment and have built a strong tolerance to other analgesics like morphine and oxycodone may also be prescribed fentanyl. Also, those who are in the late stages of cancer can also be prescribed fentanyl patches or lozenges for advanced pain related to end-of-life complications.

However, fentanyl has found its way into illicit narcotics that are bought and sold on the street as NPF (non-pharmaceutical fentanyl), posing a significant risk to people with substance use disorders who are dependent on illegal distributors. Because many street dealers don’t know exactly what they are getting or selling, lethal amounts of fentanyl have been finding their way into the hands of unsuspecting users across the nation, causing a flare-up of opioid overdoses.

First Responder Exposure

Since the increase in street fentanyl is causing more overdose incidents, along with searches and seizures, it has unfortunately also exposed law enforcement and first responders to dangerous doses of fentanyl. Most recently, a state trooper in Leicester, Vermont was conducting a routine traffic stop when he noticed the suspect had swallowed a substance before being questioned. He proceeded to do a standard search of the vehicle before apprehending the suspect for possession of heroin and paraphernalia. Upon returning to the station, he collapsed on the ground and was found unconscious by other officers. They quickly administered two doses of Narcan, an overdose antidote, with a third dose administered in an emergency vehicle on the way to the hospital. With the quick thinking of his fellow officers who grabbed the Narcan, the officer was able to survive his unsuspected and unintended opioid overdose caused by exposure to fentanyl. Stories like this are the reason why EMTs and officers are now regularly trained in fentanyl safety.

With the threat of potential exposure to fentanyl from street drugs, there is no better time to put an end to illicit opioid use. Methadone clinics have become advanced treatment centers that tackle the issue of substance use disorders in an effective and scientifically-proven way. BAART Programs utilizes medication-assisted treatment, and has been successfully helping people overcome their addiction for over 50 years.