Fentanyl is an opioid that was originally intended to be used as a painkiller and in conjunction with other drugs for anesthesia. Fentanyl was approved for common medical use in the United States in 1968. As of 2017, fentanyl was the most commonly used synthetic opioid in the medical world. Now fentanyl is also used a recreational drug, often mixed with heroin or cocaine. As a painkiller, fentanyl is more than 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl and its “structural analogs” are classified as Schedule II drugs by the federal government. This means that fentanyl has medical usefulness, but also a high potential for physical and psychological dependency and abuse. Structural analogs are synthetically made designer drugs that have a very similar scientific structure to the original but have a difference as to avoid criminal laws. Fentanyl has a handful of structural analogs that have also been declared illegal under state and federal law. The size of a few grains of salt of fentanyl could be a deadly dose to the user. It is an extremely powerful drug.
Fentanyl is now being seized at the United States/ Canada border in Detroit at alarming rates. Statistics show that from 2015-17 there was just over one-half pound of fentanyl seized in that three-year period. In 2018 alone that number nearly tripled to almost a pound and a half. As of 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 10.5 pounds of fentanyl. That is enough to kill nearly 1.5 million people. Nationally the rate of fentanyl seized today is 35 times what it was back in 2015. The recreational demand for fentanyl is at an all-time high. Its potency and addictiveness are what could continue to increase this frightening trend.