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What is fentanyl?

The opioid crisis is impacting states all over the country, including Florida. Fentanyl is a particularly dangerous synthetic opioid that was originally approved as a treatment for severe pain related to cancer. It has since become widely abused and sold illegally and is also linked to high overdose risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 28,400 synthetic opioid overdose deaths occurred in 2017. Florida is particularly hard-hit by the unlawful use of fentanyl. 

To prevent more overdoses from occurring, certain measures are urged to help contain this public health crisis. EMS, law enforcement, and even private citizens who are friends or family of addicts are encouraged to seek out naloxone. This medication can reverse the effects of overdose when administered in time. Proper training to properly use the drug is also encouraged, as unaware individuals may have difficulty administering it in high-stress situations. 

In terms of outbreaks, better analysis of patterns and trends is also recommended. For instance, public health departments must have the proper methods in place to quickly detect a possible overdose outbreak. This will allow them to make announcements to notify affected parties, including opiate users and their family members. Law enforcement is also encouraged to amplify their response when detecting an uptick in illegal fentanyl-related activity. 

According to the United States Sentencing Commission, there were 69,425 fentanyl trafficking cases reported in 2018. Of those arrested, 97.4% were sentenced to prison. On average, those convicted of trafficking fentanyl were given a sentence of 74 months. Sentences were often increased when a weapon was present during an arrest. Longer sentences may also be awarded to those who are considered to be in a leadership role when it comes to drug trafficking. 

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