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Fentanyl testing kits can prevent overdose deaths, say researchers

Fentanyl testing kits can prevent overdose deaths, say researchers

03-12 | CDAH Team

The United States, reeling under an unprecedented prescription drug abuse, is working relentlessly to combat the soaring overdose deaths in the country. Although the federal authorities and agencies are formulating new laws and reforms to wipe out the health threat, they keep stumbling upon roadblocks on their path to success, with proliferation of synthetic drug fentanyl and its analogs being one of them.

Fentanyl is a pain relieving drug or depressant drug that slows down the messages traveling between the brain and body. Highly addictive in nature, it also increases the risk of causing overdose deaths in users. In the wake of the rising number of overdose deaths due to fentanyl—a drug 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine—researchers at the Brown and Johns Hopkins Universities have recommended health agencies to offer drug testing kits to detect fentanyl and prevent overdoses.

The researchers based their recommendations on a study conducted over a six-month period. According to the study, fentanyl-laced heroin is being sold in the market about which the users are often unaware. Consequently, it has led to a rise in unintentional overdoses and deaths. The researchers noted that many drug users are concerned about using fentanyl mistakenly, and hence, they are willing to use the testing kits.

Fentanyl mayhem

Usually prescribed to cancer patients with chronic pain, the affordable rate and easy availability further make the drug a favorable replacement for most of the prescription opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), use of “other synthetic narcotics,” a category that includes fentanyl, led to a 77 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in 2015. This is the sharpest increase until 2014, it added. As per another report, in New Hampshire, fentanyl alone killed 158 people in 2015, while heroin killed 32.

Its property to react faster can cause paralysis of the muscles. An overdose of fentanyl tends to paralyze the chest muscle, therefore, interfering with the breathing process and killing the person. Some of the effects of fentanyl use are slow heart rate, difficulty in thinking and moving, shallow breathing, pale face, respiratory arrest, drop in blood pressure, reduction in the size of the pupil, and limping of the body, among others. It can also make people slip into an unresponsive state of coma.

Adding to the woes is the cheaper and more dangerous derivative of fentanyl—carfentanil, luring drug users and causing irreversible harm, including death. Counterfeit Xanax mixed with fentanyl is also another rising concern for the authorities. The illicit form of the drug found in countries like the U.S., Canada, and Mexico usually come from China. Apart from these sources, traffickers also purchase fentanyl and its analog online, which they sell on the street at a cheaper rate.

Dealing with addiction

Amid the conundrum of overdoses and deaths caused by fentanyl and fentanyl-laced substances, the kit suggested by the researchers could provide some relief to the people. Alternatively, precaution, awareness, and information are also important tools to keep fentanyl abuse at bay. It is equally important to know and recognize the symptoms of fentanyl use so that immediate medical help could be sought.

Fortunately, fentanyl abuse is a treatable condition. The treatment includes removing the maximum fentanyl traces from the body as early as possible to prevent any further damage. Also, use of Naloxone to counter the effects of the poisonous opiate is also a popular technique. However, any medication or treatment method should be strictly recommend by a licensed medical practitioner.

If you or your loved one is battling an addiction and is looking for relevant information regarding the right treatment facility, you can get in touch with Colorado drug addiction helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 218-7546 or chat online with our experts to know more about various drug rehab centers in Colorado.

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