Fentanyl is a Schedule II Drug
Fentanyl is flooding Georgia. And people are getting charged with criminal activity related to the drug. The penalties are severe and, of course, the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Being local criminal lawyers, we wanted to address this issue and write about fentanyl.
Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid drug, is a Schedule II drug. This classification means a drug is less addictive than Schedule I, but, according to the government, is highly abused. Schedule II Drugs are delineated in O.C.G.A. §16-13-26. Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(a), it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance.
Here is a quick overview of some common fentanyl facts:
- Potency: Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, making it a highly effective opioid analgesic for managing severe pain.
- Medical Uses: It is prescribed for pain management in cases of cancer, surgery, and chronic pain conditions. Its high potency allows for lower doses compared to other opioids.
- Forms: Available in various formulations, including transdermal patches, lozenges, and injectable forms, providing flexibility in administration for medical purposes.
- Anesthesia: Used in medical settings for anesthesia during surgery and for managing pain in patients who are tolerant to other opioids.
- Illicit Production: Illegally manufactured fentanyl, often mixed with heroin or sold on its own, has contributed significantly to the opioid epidemic.
- Risk of Overdose: Due to its potency, there is an increased risk of overdose, leading to respiratory depression and, in severe cases, death.
- Fast Onset and Short Duration: Fentanyl's rapid onset of action and short duration make it suitable for certain medical procedures and acute pain management.
- Opioid Receptor Binding: Acts by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in a diminished perception of pain and euphoria.
- Regulatory Challenges: The illicit production and distribution of fentanyl present challenges for law enforcement and healthcare professionals, requiring careful monitoring and regulation.
- Transdermal Patches: Unique delivery method for controlled and sustained release, allowing for continuous pain management over an extended period.
- Contributor to Opioid Epidemic: The misuse and abuse of fentanyl have played a significant role in opioid-related overdoses and deaths, emphasizing the need for public health measures to address this crisis.
Where is Fentanyl Made?
Fentanyl is manufactured both legally for medical use and illegally for the illicit drug market. Legally, pharmaceutical companies produce fentanyl for medical purposes, and it is used in hospitals and other medical settings. Legal fentanyl production is subject to strict regulations and quality control measures to ensure its safe use in healthcare.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is a major concern and is often produced in clandestine laboratories, primarily in countries where regulations and law enforcement may be less stringent. China has been identified as a significant source of precursor chemicals used in the illegal production of fentanyl. Traffickers may then export these chemicals to other regions, including North America, where they are used to manufacture the drug.
The illegal production and distribution of fentanyl, along with its analogs, have been linked to the opioid epidemic, contributing to a rise in opioid-related overdoses and deaths. The global nature of the opioid trade makes it challenging for law enforcement to control the illicit production and trafficking of fentanyl and its derivatives. Efforts to address this issue involve international cooperation, stricter regulation of precursor chemicals, and enhanced law enforcement measures to combat the illicit opioid trade.
How Do People Ingest Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is typically administered under the supervision of healthcare professionals in medical settings for pain management, surgery, or anesthesia. It comes in various formulations, each with its specific administration method:
- Transdermal Patches: These patches are applied to the skin, and the medication is absorbed through the skin over an extended period. This method provides a controlled and sustained release of the drug.
- Lozenges (Fentanyl Buccal Tablets): Designed to dissolve slowly in the mouth, allowing for absorption through the buccal mucosa (inner cheek).
- Injectable Form: Fentanyl can be administered intravenously (IV) in medical settings, especially during surgery or certain medical procedures.
Illicit use of fentanyl, however, is a major concern, as individuals may misuse the drug outside of prescribed medical scenarios. Illicit fentanyl is often sold in the following forms:
- Powder: Illicitly manufactured fentanyl may be sold as a white powder. Users may inhale it, ingest it orally, or mix it with other substances.
- Pills: Fentanyl pills, sometimes disguised as other medications, may be sold on the illicit market. These can be ingested orally.
- Injection: Some individuals may dissolve fentanyl powder and inject it, seeking a rapid and intense onset of effects.
It's crucial to note that using fentanyl without a prescription or outside of a medical setting can be extremely dangerous. Illicitly obtained fentanyl, especially when mixed with other substances, significantly increases the risk of overdose and can have life-threatening consequences due to its potency. Misuse of fentanyl has been a major contributing factor to the opioid epidemic, emphasizing the importance of proper medical supervision and adherence to prescribed guidelines when using this powerful opioid.
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