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The Dangers of Fentanyl

(Published July 1, 2022)

Think of a package of sugar. The kind you’d put in your morning coffee at your favorite Iowa coffee shop. That package contains 4,000 milligrams of sugar. It takes just two milligrams of Fentanyl to kill you or your loved ones.

From September 2020 to September 2021, 448 Iowans died of an overdose – roughly the population of a small Iowa town. Since 2016, overdose deaths from Fentanyl-laced substances are up a staggering 51%.  

What Is Fentanyl?

The dangers of fentanylFentanyl is a synthetic (manmade) opioid used to treat some of the most intense human pain imaginable. If you’ve ever had a painkiller after dental surgery, Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than that. Under proper medical supervision, it can provide much-needed relief for cancer patients.

How Did Fentanyl Become a Problem?

In the 1990s, doctors were prescribing opioids based on the many pharmaceutical companies’ assuring the medications were not addictive. Doctors prescribed more opioids to help with pain management.

As time went on, patients needed more opioids to get the same effect. When a patient tried to stop taking opioids it could result in severe withdrawal symptoms. With altered brain chemistry, people would get desperate to find the same relief from any source they could. This led to an Opioid Epidemic being declared nationwide in 2017.

At the same time, Fentanyl, which was approved as a pharmaceutical synthetic opioid, became illicitly made globally and was sold on the black market.

Drug dealers laced drugs with Fentanyl since it cost less than other drugs. The user of the drug would have no idea. With no regulation, management, or care for public health impacts, deadly doses of fentanyl would end up in street drugs.

What Can We Do Stop Fentanyl Overdose Deaths?

Steps are already in place to save the lives of our loved ones, and with your help, we can continue to win the fight.

Here are some steps that are being taken now:

  • Naloxone and NARCAN® can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose is available free of charge, without judgment or consequences, from most Iowa pharmacies.
  • Funds from the Opioid Settlement against pharmaceutical companies are being distributed statewide.
  • State and national law enforcement continue to investigate and crack down on organized drug traffickers. A 2021 bust resulted in the arrest of 21 accused dealers in Iowa, helping stop a fentanyl-laced drug group from selling products in Des Moines and the surrounding area.

Get Help Now

If you are struggling with this health issue or suspect someone you love is struggling, we’re here for you to answer questions, listen, and give guidance on how to handle difficult conversations. You are not alone in this.