Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid pain medication that is often used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. It is also used to manage pain in patients with advanced cancer. However, the drug has a high potential for abuse and can lead to dependence and addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has been increasing in the United States in recent years. In 2019, there were more than 31,000 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, the majority of which were attributed to fentanyl. This represents a significant increase from previous years, with the number of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids increasing by more than 10,000 between 2015 and 2019.
Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, which can increase the risk of overdose. The drug is also available in counterfeit pills that are sold as other prescription medications or street drugs, which can also contribute to overdose deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the opioid overdose epidemic is a significant public health crisis in the United States, and the use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is a major contributing factor. The CDC recommends a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid overdose epidemic, including the use of overdose-reversing drugs, such as naloxone, and the expansion of access to substance abuse treatment services.