The Fentanyl Crisis: What You Need to Know

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021

James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid that is responsible for thousands of deaths. Fentanyl is often administrated in medical contexts, where it is used to treat chronic severe pain. When abused outside of a medical context, however, it is deadly. About 50 times as potent as heroin, fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths within the current opioid crisis in America. Welcome to the fentanyl crisis. In addition to its usage alone, fentanyl is now commonly passed off for heroin or found mixed with other illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin in small but deadly amounts.

Fentanyl is Deadly Potent and Available

Due to its high potency, very little fentanyl is required to produce deadly consequences for the user. Such potency, combined with fentanyl’s relative availability, explains how it is taking so many lives. Fentanyl’s strength also means that traditional measures used to revive overdose victims are proving ineffective. One study found an increasing trend of fentanyl showing “resistance to reversal with standard doses of naloxone”, a common overdose antidote.

Fentanyl Can Be Produced in Other Countries

An in-depth look at fentanyl’s sources in The San Diego Union-Tribune explains that a great deal of the illegal fentanyl that is coming to America originates from Chinese laboratories, where a lack of regulation makes it easy to produce the drug. From there, it can arrive in the U.S. through several means. It may be sold and mailed to American dealers or consumers through clandestine online markets on the “dark web,” or sold and sent directly to Mexican cartels that cut their drugs with the fentanyl and introduce it into U.S drug markets.

Fentanyl is Easy to Conceal in Shipping

Many factors make it difficult for authorities to combat this influx of fentanyl. The Union-Tribune piece notes the structure of the Chinese shipping system makes such packages incredibly difficult to trace to the source, with producers having found many tricks to obscure their drug shipments. A recent NPR interview highlights the difficulties faced by Customs and Border Patrol in inspecting packages and their contents; the UPS receives over a million packages a day, and only a small fraction of those are able to be inspected.

Combatting the Fentanyl Crisis

So, what are we doing to combat this crisis? It’s obviously an enormous problem that needs all the help it can get. U.S Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is sponsoring the STOP Act, an effort with bipartisan support which would require international mailers to provide data about their packages for entry into a database that would aid in package screening. Health officials are calling for easier access to overdose antidotes and increased education on how to approach and treat addiction. Many drug researchers have asked for the lifting of federal regulations that make fentanyl difficult to legally acquire for study. 7 Legislative efforts are also underway to introduce a federal database of helpful information that would be accessible to governmental, law, and health officials.

Drug Addiction Treatment at Granite Recovery Centers

The abuse of fentanyl and similar opioids has taken thousands of lives and continues to do so. Any individual struggling with addiction to such substances needs to seek professional drug treatment before it is too late. Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers a comprehensive drug rehab treatment program for substance abuse and addiction that combines 12-step work with clinical care. We will help you or your loved one beat addiction and get your life back on track with compassion and professional expertise. If you or a loved one has an opioid addiction, please contact our drug helpline at 855.712.7784 or send us a message.

Call 855.712.7784 for Immediate Help

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.