The Opioid Crisis and Fentanyl Abuse
With the rise in fentanyl trafficking and usage, it is critical to intervene early when misuse is suspected to prevent overdoses and even death. Specific and highly accurate at-home fentanyl drug screens are available at low costs.
The rise in opioid usage (a type of drug that includes heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, etc.) has devolved into an epidemic that has taken a violent toll on society for the past 20 years . The opioid epidemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives (over 800,000) in the U.S. since the 1990s . It began as an increase in overdoses from prescription opioids.
The second wave of overdoses occurred from 2010-2012 with an increase in heroin usage and substance abuse . The third and ongoing wave is so large, that over 70% of overdose-related deaths involve an opioid . This skyward tick in opioid-related overdoses quickly began in 2013 as a result of higher synthetic opioid usage—principally fentanyl. Unfortunately, the third wave shows no signs of subsiding in the near future.
History of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved synthetic opioid that is prescribed to treat severe chronic pain [4, 5]. Its analgesic (pain-relieving) effect is 50 to 100 times more potent than that of heroin and morphine, so only 0.25 milligrams can lead to death [4, 5].
It was first developed in the 1960s for intravenous medical use. Today, Fentanyl is still legally produced and sold in the U.S. Within the realms of the healthcare industry, it is available in the form of injectable formulations, transdermal patches, sublingual and effervescent tablets, nasal and sublingual sprays, and oral transmucosal lozenges (lollipops). These prescription formulations are generally safe if taken as directed by a doctor and for a short period of time.
Abuse of Fentanyl
Today, prescriptions are often misused and illegally distributed by patients, pharmacists, and doctors. Fentanyl is also acquired through theft by individuals trying to sell it on the illegal market or attempting to satisfy their own cravings . In fact, under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regards fentanyl as a schedule II narcotic—just like hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, and opium . This classification means that fentanyl has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe physical and/or psychological dependence.
However, the number of prescriptions for opioids has declined since 2012, so why is the number of opioid overdose deaths soaring within recent years ? The answer lies in illicitly made fentanyl. The production and sale of illegally made fentanyl and fentanyl analogues (chemicals with almost identical structures and properties to fentanyl) are rampant in the U.S.
In just three years, illegal fentanyl production increased by tenfold . Common street names for fentanyl include “China Girl”, “Goodfellas”, “King Ivory”, “Apache”, “Jackpot” and “Dance Fever” . Illegally made fentanyl is generally in the form of counterfeit tablets or powder and is often mixed into other illegal substances such as cocaine and heroin.
These adulterated substances are then sold on the black market to users who often have no idea that they purchased a product with fentanyl . Illegally manufactured fentanyl accounts for a large percentage of fentanyl overdoses and deaths . Lamentably, these deaths and overdoses significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?
Akin to morphine and heroin, fentanyl generates the feeling of relaxation, pain relief, drowsiness, and euphoria . It does so by targeting opioid receptors in the brain that are responsible for mediating emotion and pain . Fentanyl also releases dopamine (a chemical that induces the feeling of pleasure) in the reward center of the brain. This is how repeated use of fentanyl reinforces the user’s dependency on the drug .
Individuals on fentanyl are often dizzy, in a state of confusion, have pupillary constriction (shrunken pupils), and may feel nauseated . Opioid poisoning or overdosing leads to near-unconsciousness, coma, cold-bluish skin, respiratory failure, and death.
Fentanyl’s highly addictive nature presents a major challenge for the control of its use and leaves coworkers, employees, and loved ones vulnerable to its misuse. Early intervention is the most effective form of decreasing mortality rates of individuals abusing fentanyl .
Identifying individuals abusing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is easily achievable using fentanyl urine tests such as fentanyl test strips and urine home drug tests. Fentanyl drug test detection times vary depending on the test used . For instance, a blood test detects fentanyl for up to 48 hours after use. Fentanyl urine drug tests can detect fentanyl for 24-72 hours from last use, and a hair test may detect fentanyl for up to 3 months after last use.
Fighting overdoses by testing for fentanyl does not need to have a burdensome financial cost. For industries where Fentanyl testing is required, 12 Panel Now offers the most affordable drug testing supplies in the country including a quality-made, easy-to-use fentanyl drug test. 12 Panel Now’s fentanyl test strips are obtainable for as low as $0.69 per strip.
12 Panel Now’s fentanyl test strips give quick and reliable urine test results. They work by dipping the test strip in a urine sample, are 99% accurate, and display preliminary positive or negative drug test results in 5 minutes or less. Due to the ease of use and accuracy, rehab centers, workplaces, sports organizations, police stations, hospitals, academic environments, and private homes benefit from their use.
How to Read a Drug Test (Fentanyl)
12 Panel Now’s Single Panel Fentanyl Test Strip is a simple and effective screening test used to detect Fentanyl, or determine Fentanyl abuse. The test strips are available in single packs, as well as multi-pack quantities. Some multidrug test cups will detect Fentanyl as well as other prescription drugs present.
If you’re purchasing drug tests cups from 12 Panel Now, there are many options available in the form of multipanel drug test cups. 13 Panel, 14 Panel, and 16 Panel Multidrug test cups contain Fentanyl test panels as well as other specific drug panels. Results are displayed in as little as five minutes. In order to begin using the Single Panel Fentanyl test, make sure to have your materials ready. You will need:
- Remove the fentanyl drug test from its sealed pouch and use it as soon as possible. For best results, perform the assay within an hour.
- Next, hold the strip by the end, where you can see the product name. To avoid contamination, do not touch the strip membrane.
- Then, holding the strip vertically, dip the test strip in the urine specimen for at least 10-15 seconds. Do not immerse above the maximum line (MAX) on the test strip. That’s about 1/5th of the way up the strip.
- After the fentanyl drug test has finished, remove the strip from the specimen and place it on a non-absorbent flat surface. Start the timer and wait for the colored band(s) to appear. Read the result at 5 minutes. Do not interpret it after 10 minutes.