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(America Out Loud) – Fentanyl ushered in a new era of anesthesia making outpatient surgery safe and, ultimately, commonplace. In contrast to morphine or meperidine (Demerol®), fentanyl is very short-acting, allowing patients to emerge from anesthesia faster. The downside for the safety profile is that fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Of course, anesthesiologists (unlike the vast majority of drug users) are trained professionals and are constantly monitoring a patient’s oxygen, breathing, pulse, and blood pressure.
Now that fentanyl has become a street drug; it has become a quick path to death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is now the top cause of death among U.S. adults (ages 18-45) — more than COVID-19, suicide, and car accidents. Out of 2022’s 105,452 drug overdose deaths, 19 percent were due to fentanyl. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in 2021, fentanyl killed more Americans than guns and traffic crashes combined.
How did it become so popular? Seventy-five percent of overdose deaths are due to opioids. The legal prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone had been the leading cause of overdose deaths. But after these medications came under scrutiny and became the subjects of multiple lawsuits, fentanyl hit the streets. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. A lethal dose fits on the tip of a pencil. And fentanyl is…