The drug is not only dangerous, but it's becoming more and more prevalent.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic that's very powerful and is used to treat patients with severe pain after surgery. The drug is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Fentanyl is known on the street as many things, including "Apache," "China Girl," "China White," "Dance Fever," "Friend," "Goodfellas," "Jackpot," "Murder 8," and "Tango & Cash," according to the National Institutes of Health.
In Denver, fentanyl is a growing problem. Deaths due to overdoses are rising—overdoses are up 282 percent from this time last year, says the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). In 2019, 214 people died from fentanyl overdoses; so far this year, 169 lives have been taken by fentanyl overdose.
According to investigators with the Denver Police Department's (DPD) Vice and Drug Control Bureau, the drug is making its way into the state via I-25 from Mexico and is being shipped in from China. They also say the drug is extremely dangerous, and that it's only a matter of time before it brings great harm to those who use it. Often disguised to look like prescription painkillers, the drug is making its way around the state at a higher rate than seen before.
DPD has reported seizing 3,065 grams of the drug this year, which is triple what the department confiscated last year by this time. Just a few milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person, making it one of the most dangerous drugs out there on the street right now. It can come in pill form, powder, rocks, and capsules among other forms. DPD found some in late 2019 disguised as a bark of black tar heroin. It cannot be detected by sight, smell, or taste when mixed with other substances.
DDPHE also says that fentanyl overdoses can be harder to treat than other types of opioid overdoses. Fentanyl acts very quickly and this can hinder treatment in an overdose. DDPHE is working to get the word out that fentanyl is spiking in the state, and that it's being peddled as fake prescription pills. They advise that anyone using these types of substances to not mix them with other drugs or alcohol, and not to use them alone.
Denver has many different treatment options for anyone who is dealing with drug addiction. It is highly recommended that those who use drugs and those who are around them carry the drug naloxone (Narcan). Naloxone can reverse an overdose, and pharmacies in Colorado can pass it out without a prescription.
More information on where to find naloxone at StoptheClockColorado.org. If an overdose is suspected, administer naloxone and call 911 immediately.
There is a fatal overdose in Colorado every 8 hours and 20 minutes—it's a very serious problem that education and prevention can help prevent. Please share any other resources you may know of with us in the comments. If anyone you know is having trouble with addiction, please reach out and get them help, as you may just save their life.