The synthetic pain medication Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine … and it’s increasingly being abused for recreational purposes in Denmark.
The prescription opioid originally popped up on the Danish radar in Fredericia a couple of years ago, but has since spread to the rest of the country.
In June 2018, the Sundhedsstyrelsen health authority warned that 10 people had died in a short space of time after taking Fentanyl-like substances.
”Since it was discovered in Fredericia, it has spread across the country,” Henrik Rindom, a doctor with drug abuse counselling association Stofrådgivningen, told DR Nyheder.
“It has worked well for so many that consumption has been on the rise. Now, for instance, we also see it in Odense and Copenhagen.”
Small margin for error
Rindom underlined that although the problem is increasing, it is still a niche abuse that doesn’t encompass the broader population.
Fentanyl can only be obtained via prescription. It comes in the form of a patch and is absorbed into the body over a few days whilst attached to the skin.
But abusers cut up the patches and smoke it, leading to a much faster and far more potent effect that can result in the lungs shutting down and the abusers dying.
Due to its potency, it only takes a small amount to result in an overdose.
The abuse of opioids has become a real issue in Sweden, where 369 people have died over the past three years – with most of the deaths occurring among men aged 25-38.
In the US, it’s not just a problem, it’s an epidemic. In 2017, over 70,000 people died of drug overdoses and 68 percent were due to opioids.
The police in Denmark have urged anyone offered Fentanyl (by someone other than a doctor) to call 114.