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A Single Touch Can Kill: Fentanyl and The Opioid Epidemic

If you haven’t encountered fentanyl in the news, it’s likely only a matter of time before you do. Fentanyl is a type of opioid painkiller, but that title is misleading. The drug is over 100 times more powerful than morphine, and since 2000 has been a major factor in the opioid epidemic. It’s easy to find, and easier to abuse. Many mix the drug with other substances like heroin, to make powerful compound drugs that are powerful but often fatal. In fact, just this week a police officer overdosed on the drug in a bizarre yet common fashion: he touched it.

Officer Chris Green had just completed an arrest on two young men, suspected of hiding drugs in their vehicle. As he was walking back to his patrol car, Green noticed something on his shirt, and brushed it off without a second thought. Moments later, he was unconscious on the ground. It took over three doses of an anti-opioid overdose medication to revive him, and days before he could even stand again.

Fentanyl is so potent and dangerous, even mild skin contact can result in death. This is in part why the drug has become so prolific. Drug dealers can mix small amounts into heroin to make their doses much stronger and last far longer, increasing profits and return customers. However, this business practice undoubtedly takes lives. Fentanyl can initiate cardiac arrest and death almost immediately, along with a myriad of other dangerous and lethal side effects.

Fentanyl can also be synthesized outside of a laboratory setting, meaning it can be manufactured with ease. This, coupled with a cheap price, is making fentanyl the most dangerous substance in the American opioid epidemic. Without proper regulation and detection methods, fentanyl is likely to keep killing. If you or someone you love is struggling with a painkiller addiction, step in before it’s too late. Even a simple touch can kill.