True or False: Ready to Put Your Fentanyl Knowledge to the Test?
Fentanyl. This potent opiate has added a whole new level of danger to the opioid crisis, causing a staggering number of overdoses and deaths. Part of its overall threat is the lack of public knowledge and awareness.
So, how much do you know about fentanyl? You’re about to find out…
True or False: Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.
True or False: Fentanyl can’t be absorbed through your skin, so it doesn’t matter if you wear gloves when you come into contact with the powdery substance.
False. Fentanyl can be rapidly absorbed through the skin.
Ohio police officer Chris Green learned this first hand. After a drug bust, he returned to police HQ to complete the paperwork. While there, a fellow officer pointed out a white powdery substance on Green’s shirt. Thinking nothing of it, he simply wiped it away. An hour later, he was unconscious. The brief contact with the fentanyl transferred to his shirt during the bust was enough to cause an overdose. Green was given multiple doses of Narcan and revived by emergency crews.
True or False: Most heroin dealers will let you know if they’ve cut their product with fentanyl.
False. Fentanyl is cheap and adds extra weight to baggies of heroin. Since most drug dealers aren’t exactly known for their moral compasses, they aren’t about to warn customers that their heroin is laced with fentanyl, which will inevitably put them at a high risk for overdose.
True or False: Prescribed fentanyl patches are always safe.
False. Used without caution, these patches can be deadly.
Fentanyl is frequently prescribed for patients suffering severe, ongoing pain (such as cancer patients). In need of continuous pain medication, these patients receive a transdermal patch. Patients using fentanyl patches must be cautious while taking this drug.
Two main areas are cause for concern. The first is heat. When a person gets hot, their skin dilates and absorption increases. A significant increase can be fatal, so patients must be cautious in hot weather, using saunas, hot tubs or heating pads or if they have a fever. Secondly, fentanyl patches must be disposed of carefully to protect children and pets. Dug from the garbage and mishandled, these patches can be lethal.
True or False: As long as I have some Narcan nearby, I’ll be safe using fentanyl.
False. Fentanyl is so fast-acting, a lethal dose may not allow time for administration of life-saving Narcan. This drug is also so strong, emergency crews equipped with Narcan have struggled to revive those who have overdosed. Often, they must use multiple doses of Narcan and, even then, not everyone makes it.
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