What People Are Getting Wrong This Week: Fentanyl

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Headlines astir fentanyl are shocking. Drug overdose deaths successful the U.S. accrued 58% betwixt 2019 and 2021 astatine slightest partially owed to the influx of this super-charged synthetic narcotic into the nation’s illicit cause supply. As small arsenic 2 milligrams of fentanyl tin origin an overdose, an magnitude of pulverization that could acceptable connected the constituent of a pencil.

Some of the astir frightening reports astir the cause impact accidental overdoses—people who hap to interaction immoderate of the pulverization and instantly autumn out. Fentanyl is definitively a potent drug—it’s said to beryllium 50 to 100 times much powerful than morphine—but it’s not magic. Despite reports to the contrary from law enforcement officers, local quality stations, and Facebook posts, fentanyl overdoses from incidental interaction with tegument are highly unlikely. You astir decidedly can’t “catch” a fentanyl overdose from picking up a contaminated dollar bill, touching the grip of a buying cart, oregon from inhaling the pulverization accidentally.

“This has ne'er happened,” Dr. Ryan Marino, a toxicologist and exigency country doc who studies addiction astatine Case Western Reserve University told NPR. “There has ne'er been an overdose done tegument interaction oregon accidentally inhaling fentanyl.”

Panic implicit fentanyl overdoses isn’t conscionable annoying, though. It’s perchance deadly—unfounded beliefs astir the cause whitethorn beryllium causing archetypal responders to hesitate to supply attraction for users.

Fentanyl doesn’t participate the assemblage easily

Some of the mistaken beliefs astir fent whitethorn travel from however it’s often delivered medically. Fentanyl commonly comes successful patches designed to merchandise the cause implicit time, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy absorbed done the skin. Fentanyl patches are made with different agents that let the cause to beryllium delivered—they wouldn’t enactment otherwise. This is wherefore you don’t spot cause addicts rubbing themselves with achromatic pulverization to get high.

Smoking fentanyl is 1 of the main mode abusers of the cause partake, but experts accidental breathing second-hand fume from a idiosyncratic is precise debased risk. “There’s nary existent hazard for the mundane idiosyncratic being exposed to secondhand opioid smoke,” writes Scott Phillips, a aesculapian toxicologist and the aesculapian manager of the Washington Poison Center. “When idiosyncratic smokes fentanyl, astir of the cause has been filtered retired by the idiosyncratic earlier determination is secondhand smoke.”

The aforesaid applies to powered fentanyl successful the air. Fentanyl doesn’t “go airborne” ordinarily, truthful unless you’re trapped successful a wind-tunnel filled with fentanyl, the likelihood of accidentally inhaling it are each but non-existent. “The thought of it hanging successful the aerial and getting breathed successful is highly highly implausible—it’s astir impossible,” Brandon Del Pozo, a erstwhile constabulary main who studies addiction and cause argumentation astatine Brown University told NPR.

So wherever are each these reports coming from?

If incidental vulnerability to fentanyl poses specified a tiny risk, wherefore are determination truthful galore reports of police officers, bus drivers, and regular radical having contiguous adverse reactions to what they judge is fent? It’s astir apt fear. Many radical who fishy they’ve been accidentally exposed to fentanyl study symptoms that are suspiciously akin to the symptoms of panic attacks. Given the mixed messages astir the drug, panic is an understandable absorption to believing you’ve been exposed.

The existent dangers from fentanyl panic

The clime of hysteria astir this cause tin effect successful hesitation to touching oregon treating a idiosyncratic who is overdosing, and that means a longer effect clip and a greater likelihood of death. There aren’t truly statistic for hesitation erstwhile treating drugs addicts, but it’s capable of a imaginable occupation that programs are successful spot to amended first-responders to the existent dangers they look from it. Regular citizens, though, are much apt to beryllium misinformed, truthful it’s important to cognize that information from administering anti-overdose medicine Narcan, performing CPR, oregon different touching idiosyncratic overdosing connected fentanyl is highly improbable to airs immoderate wellness risk.

How bash accidental fentanyl overdoses truly occur?

The radical who are successful the astir information from overdosing connected fentanyl accidentally aren’t constabulary oregon paramedics; they’re cause users. Fentanyl is often mislabeled by dealers, and adjacent if it’s being sold arsenic fent alternatively of a “tamer” opiate similar heroin, getting the dosage of specified a almighty cause close tin beryllium difficult, and adjacent a tiny mistake tin pb to death. Even if buying from an “honest” dealer, a tiny magnitude of fent could accidentally beryllium mixed with different substance—it’s not similar prime power is choky among illicit cause manufacturers.

Another demographic that has a batch to fearfulness from accidental fentanyl is children. Despite the reports of the DEA, cause trader are astir surely not creating fent that looks similar candy, but reports of children accidentally overdosing aft being exposed to a utilized spot or eating pills carelessly near strew around are depressingly communal and each excessively real.

How to really support yourself from an accidental fentanyl overdose

  • Do not bash drugs. This is simply a sure-fire overdose prevention technique, but failing that:
  • Use safer drugs. Alcohol and weed are beauteous fun, whitethorn beryllium ineligible wherever you live, and, contempt immoderate reports to the contrary, are generally fentanyl free. (You tin overdose from intoxicant though.)
  • Use fentanyl investigating strips. If you determine the hazard is worthy it, trial your substances earlier you use. Fent has shown up successful a ton of unrelated drugs, truthful trial what you instrumentality earlier you instrumentality it. You tin bargain fentanyl trial kits connected Amazon for precise small money.
  • Have naloxone/Narcan connected manus if you’re doing immoderate opiates. And marque definite idiosyncratic is astir to springiness it to you should you overdose. This overdose reversal cause tin beryllium purchased implicit the antagonistic oregon online, is easy administered, and has saved countless lives.
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