Latin American illicit drug business

The fentanyl epidemic

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodon), codeine, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and others. They are used to reduce pain (for example as a form of end-stage cancer treatment) but can also cause intense euphoria or a high which can lead to dependence and addiction. Opioid overdoses cause respiratory arrest, coma, and death. Symptoms include mental confusion and severe sweating and nausea. Fentanyl is assessed to be between 50 and 100 times more potent that heroin or prescription opioids. It can be taken in pure form or used to ‘cut’ or adulterate other typical street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or prescription pills.

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