Over the past several years, fentanyl has come into greater illegal street use. It is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, making it one of the most dangerous and deadly drugs being used illegally. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was originally developed for pain management for cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. When being used as a street drug, fentanyl is most often added to heroin or cocaine to increase their potency, or surreptitiously sold by drug dealers as a highly potent grade of heroin or cocaine.
Illegally produced fentanyl comes in powder form or in tablet form. Pharmaceutical fentanyl comes as oral transmucosal lozenges (referred to as fentanyl lollipops), effervescent buccal tablets, sublingual tablets, sublingual sprays, nasal sprays, transdermal patches, and as an injectable.
Street names for fentanyl include apace, China girl, China white, dance fever, great bear, and Tango & Cash. Fentanyl is typically injected, or inhaled like heroin.
Fentanyl affects the body in the following ways:
- Intense, short-term high
- Temporary feelings of euphoria
- Slowed respiration and reduced blood pressure
Because heroin and cocaine users most often do not know that the heroin or cocaine they are using is either mixed with fentanyl or is actually 100 percent fentanyl, the risk of overdosing and death among heroin and cocaine users has become an alarming concern among healthcare professionals and law enforcement.