May 6, 2022 – “We hope all the states would come to realize the dangers of contamination are so high and that fentanyl test strips empower a person taking drugs to know whether they have fentanyl,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.

Street versions of fentanyl, an approved painkiller that’s being

produced illegally, largely come into the U.S. from Mexico. Fentanyl is up to 100 times as powerful as morphine. It is commonly found in what is sold as heroin — often taking its place entirely. It also can be mixed into cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit street pills sold as opioid medications — substances that many buyers are not expecting to contain fentanyl. The spread of fentanyl has helped lead to a stunning rise in drug overdose deaths. Synthetic opioids — including fentanyl — were involved in about two-thirds of U.S. drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period that ended in November 2021. And three-quarters of overdose deaths from cocaine last year were associated with fentanyl, Volkow said.

“Fentanyl is so potent that it can stop your breathing at very low doses,” she said.  The fentanyl epidemic also “has exacerbated racial inequities,” Volkow added. From 2019 to 2021, fentanyl overdose deaths more than tripled among teenagers — and surged fivefold among Black teens, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data produced by the advocacy group Families Against Fentanyl. 


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