Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

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Jonathan Brown

Jonathan Brown

Where does fentanyl come from? A deep dive into the origins of the lethal drug Fentanyl

Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

Understanding what is causing a problem or addiction is a major step to solving it. But another question bears asking which is rarely answered. It’s a sensitive topic, which may illicit uncomfortable memories, or even relapses and legal implications, but it is necessary. Where do addicts get their drugs? They don’t simply manifest out of thin air. 

Understanding a substance and how it gets into the hands of others can help supporters and communities to stop them from spreading. The world is in the grips of multiple drug crises. Drug abuse is far beyond pandemic levels and effects a disproportionate number of people. Opioids are of a particularly dangerous note. Despite their difficult production centralized to certain parts of the world, they wind up in the hands of abusers in other countries far too often. Learning how can potentially help stop further use for you, your friends, your family or just anyone else who is worth protecting. 

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a pain reliever first developed in 1959 by the Janssen Pharmaceutica company. Its use was primarily medical as an intravenous anaesthetic throughout the 1960s, which was known as Sublimaze. In the 1990s, a patch was developed to deliver the same effect to relieve pain in an area through skin absorption. Fentanyl was also developed into other delivery methods such as the lollipop Actiq. 

It has existed in small doses in various medical brands of pain killers that are available via prescription. It is a synthetic anesthetic as part of the opioid family of drugs. Despite the name, it is not derived from the opium of the poppy plant, but is instead chemically manufactured to be very similar to the active ingredients from that natural source.

Where does Fentanyl Come From?

Fentanyl is normally manufactured in a medical research lab and is controlled in its distribution and handling. This fentanyl makes its way to hospitals that use it in its various legal forms as a pain reliever for extreme cases. Its use is controlled and regulated in most countries. In others, however, it is much more of a problem. So where does Fentanyl come from?

The primary exporter of fentanyl is China, where the regulations are much more lax and manufacturers can get around it by packaging it differently or lacing it in other products. Counterfeit pills mimicking popular brands are a major problem in Chinese manufacturing, and this includes medicine. It’s also known by the handle name “China White” due to its white, powdery appearance. 

What is the Real Use?

Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller. It is extremely strong, fast acting and comes with an array of natural side effects which can lead to overdoses even in extremely low quantity. Compared to morphine, it is 50 to 100 times more powerful, so it does all the things that the most common opiate in medicine does but far, far stronger, and thus requires much smaller doses which can be laced into pills or made part of cocktails for injection. 

In proper medical use, it can be used to treat extreme pain in targeted areas. It also sedates, bringing on tiredness and drowsiness caused by producing chemicals related to natural sleep. Finally, it can suppress cough reflex, thus making it a curative for certain severe conditions like whooping cough. It even comes in lozenge form because it is so easy to absorb into the skin. That is how potent it is. Once it gets abused, it becomes extremely dangerous, extremely fast.

How Dangerous Is Fentanyl?

As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl is arguably the most powerful pain reliever and suppressor in the world. In order to do that, it has to block out very important μ-receptors that are used to interpret bodily sensations such as pain. It works the same way as morphine, but far stronger, inhibiting pathways in the central nervous system, effectively disconnecting the brain with parts of the body, which therefore increases the pain threshold that the mind can handle. This brings on an incredibly calming effect. Sometimestoo calming.

The drug in normal doses can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, confusion, weakness, residual pains, headaches, fatigue and longer lasting symptoms such as weight loss, anxiety, depression, apnoea, shallow breath and even aphasia – the inability to comprehend speech that was once natural. When in perfectly controlled doses, these side effects can be managed or prevented, but fentanyl abusers do not regulate their doses. Counterfeit pills often have far more than a medical dosage would have. The black market dealers don’t care what’s safe, just the end result.

Fentanyl Can Kill

We’ve answered the question, “where does Fentanyl come from?” Fentanyl is already an epidemic level drug for abuse. It single-handedly starts opioid crises for its widespread black market availability. Knowing that, even dealers that operate on the dark web have stopped stocking it because it, more often than not, will kill their customers out of addiction and extreme usage. It’s already taken away celebrities such as Mac Miller, Tom Petty, Colin Kroll, and Prince. They all used fentanyl with other drugs, or used too much at once as a recreational narcotic, and all died from it. 

The number of synthetic opioid deaths has gone from the low hundreds per year in the early 2000s to the current standing of some 30,000 or more each year today. It is a crisis, and a life ending one at that. Opioid addiction is serious and lethal. Fentanyl will begin and end addictions, by ending the lives of those who remain addicted. As an opioid, the pain relief aspect can be what causes the dependency, or mixes with other drugs can cause immediate overdose symptoms to manifest. 

If you or someone you know is abusing fentanyl, do the right thing and reach out to a professional.

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