Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid frequently that doctors prescribe to treat patients with severe pain, such as those who have had surgery or are in the advanced stages of cancer. It is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
In recent years, more and more people have been using illegal forms of fentanyl as a recreational drug. Illegal fentanyl comes in the form of nasal spray, powder, blotter paper, and pills. Illegal fentanyl is also being mixed into other street drugs - such as Adderall, OxyContin, or Percocet. Unfortunately users often don't realize they are taking fentanyl because it is has no odor, taste, or color.
As the use of fentanyl increases, deaths from overdoses are also increasing. In fact, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, fentantly is now responsible for more deaths of Americans under the age of 50 than any other cause - including heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide, and accidents.
Here in California, public health experts identified more than 6000 deaths from fentanyl in 2021. More than 220 of those were among teens ages 15-19. Put another way, fentanyl overdose is the fastest growing cause of death for young people in California.