JUL 06, 2017 4:37 PM PDT

How a Few Granules of Fentanyl Can Kill

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

As one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets, fentanyl can cause an overdose even in tiny quantities. Earlier this year, a police officer was rushed to the emergency room and treated for fentanyl overdose after briefly brushing some of the powdery residue off his uniform.

The synthetic opioid is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Typically, the drug is administered in clinical settings to patients suffering from chronic pain, such as those battling end-stage cancer.

But for some people, the exquisite potency of fentanyl is exactly what they're after. The CDC estimates that illegal drug seizures containing fentanyl increased by 426 percent between 2013 and 2014. In conjunction, the number of deaths associated with synthetic opioid overdose also increased by almost 80 percent in the same period.

What does fentanyl do to the brain that overrides the fear of overdose with this drug? Watch the video to find out more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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