Fentanyl Analogs and Derivatives in the Epidemic

By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc., MSc., MA, PhD @ verywellmind.com

Fentanyl was created in 1959 as an intravenous surgical analgesic. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.1 As an opioid drug, fentanyl is sometimes used deliberately by people who use other opioid drugs, such as heroin and prescription painkillers. But due to its potency, it has made its way into many other drugs that people use recreationally.

This has led to a huge increase in accidental consumption of fentanyl, and in overdose deaths, often by people who are not even aware they are taking it. If a user is new to taking opioids, the risk of overdose is even higher, because their bodies have not developed any tolerance to the drug.

The increasing availability of prescription fentanyl has provided a supply of this powerful drug. Fentanyl can be stolen from hospitals, pharmacies, and or from patients and sold on the street drug market.

In addition to pharmaceutical fentanyl being diverted from medical sources, Chinese labs began making and selling cheap fentanyl, which is imported to North America and cut with other drugs for a huge profit. In this way, both medical and illicitly made fentanyl has spread throughout the illicit drug market, massively increasing the number of drug-related deaths.

Analogs and Derivatives

Drug analogs are drugs that are developed to imitate a particular drug, but they are not identical. Sometimes called novel psychoactive substances, they can be made to be similar in chemical structure, or similar in pharmacological effect to the original drug.

Creating drug analogs became popular in the 1990s, as illicit drug manufacturers tried to beat the legal system by making drugs that could not be listed as illegal or controlled drugs until they were recognized. Although this “designer drug” strategy did not beat the system, because any drug that was structurally similar to a controlled drug also became illegal, drug manufacturers have continued to develop new drug analogs in this way.

Here’s an article describing current legislation to criminalize low level dealers even more than they are now.

A crime lab said that 30 grams of cocaine that Todd Coleman had sold were laced with illegal fentanyl analogues, but they were mistaken.

A crime lab said that 30 grams of cocaine that Todd Coleman had sold were laced with illegal fentanyl analogues, but they were mistaken. COURTESY OF ASHLEY JACKSON

This is my favorite documentary on real life addiction.

This is one comment from the documentary regarding “why give needles to ” druggies”:

I guess the video can’t be shared but you can watch ot on You Tube.

Meanwhile, here’s those myths about addiction that I shared the other day. I think they’re important in the addiction/ journey course.


Misconceptions about how people change.

Heavy multiplication x

Believing that people must suffer to change/”bootstrap mentality”;

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thinking change can only look one way and is linear;

Heavy multiplication x

thinking there is only one way to help;

Heavy multiplication x

expecting a full 180 overnight; etc.

Myths about addiction and substance use disorder.

Heavy multiplication x

Addiction is a moral failing;

Heavy multiplication x

People with SUDs don’t care about anyone or anything (including themselves);

Heavy multiplication x

Drugs create addiction so ‘anyone’ can get addicted;

Heavy multiplication x

Any help is ‘enabling’ etc

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Samantha Waters

A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

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