America’s Most Dangerous Substance

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America's Most Dangerous Substance

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug belonging to the opioid class, produced in laboratories to mimic the chemical structure of natural opioids extracted from the opium poppy plant. These substances act on receptors in the brain, producing analgesic and euphoric effects, and are used medicinally to treat severe pain, especially after surgery or in cancer patients. It can be administered through injections, patches or pills.

However, fentanyl is also used illegally due to its pleasurable and stimulating effects. In the illegal market, it is sold in various forms such as powder, drops, spray or fake pills, and is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine without users’ knowledge.

Fentanyl is highly dangerous and potent, it is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Even a small dose can cause an overdose, which can lead to unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and in the worst case, death.

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How does it affect people

Symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include slow or shallow breathing, weak or irregular pulse, blue-tinged lips and fingernails, cold clammy skin, very small pupils, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and seizures.

Fentanyl use can also lead to other health problems, such as physical and psychological dependence, tolerance (needing to use more to get the same effect), withdrawal syndrome (physical and mental problems when you stop using), infection (needles for sharing or) using non-sterile material) and mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or psychosis.

Expansion in the US

In the United States, fentanyl has caused a serious health crisis with a large number of deaths, reaching 129,000 deaths in 2020 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, have become the leading cause of overdose deaths in the country.

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Fentanyl has spread in the United States for a number of reasons, including ease of production and distribution. It is produced mainly in clandestine laboratories in Mexico, from where drug cartels ship it across the border or by mail. Unlike heroin, it does not require specific crops or rural communities to make, and is also cheaper and more potent than other drugs.

One factor contributing to its prevalence is the lack of regulation and control, as the purity of an illegally obtained drug is difficult to trace and measure. Consumers may not know how much they are consuming and whether the substance has been mixed with others, increasing the risk of overdose and poisoning.

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The so-called ‘zombie drug’ has become popular due to demand from consumers who are looking for its rapid and long-lasting effects. Some people use it for curiosity, pleasure, or to escape from personal problems, while others use it because of addiction to prescription opioids, when they do not have access to them, or when they have developed a tolerance to other substances. , so they turn to it.

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