Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment however, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths. (https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl)
Some drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a cheap but dangerous additive. They might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to and can be more likely to overdose.
Harm reduction is a broad term that applies to policies, programs, and practices that aim to minimize the health, social, and economic consequences of substance abuse. The idea behind harm reduction is not to necessarily eliminate substance abuse but to diminish its harmful effects. Harm reduction acknowledges that many people will continue to abuse drugs and engage in other dangerous behaviors despite prevention efforts.
Xylazine is a drug used in veterinary medicine as a sedative with analgesic and muscle relaxant properties. Drug traffickers are suspected of secretly adding xylazine to more expensive opioid products to cut costs and increase highs. But the drug, which is not intended for human use, can produce terrible side effects including gruesome wounds, amputations, and death.