Fentanyl, the zombie drug arrives in Italy: what are the risks?

For the first time in Italy traces of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has long sparked serious public health problems in the United States. It happened in the area of Perugiawhere fentanyl was identified within a heroin sample confiscated several weeks ago.

In response to this discovery, the National Rapid Alert System for Drugs was activated, coordinated by the Department for Anti-Drug Policies, which issued an alert to all law enforcement agencies and competent bodies.

Fentanyl in Italy, what are the effects

The fentanyl alarm had already been raised a few months ago, with the government presenting recommendations in March prevention guidelines against the use of synthetic drugs.

A communication from the Prevention Directorate of the Ministry of Health recently raised the fentanyl alert to “Grade 3”, following the discovery. The note also reports the results of the seized batch and its composition, identifying the presence of fentanyl (5%), heroin (50%), codeine (30%) and diazepam (15%) in the sample.

The note warns the Regions, the Serds and the accredited and authorized therapeutic communities of “inform people who use substances of the very serious health risks deriving from taking fentanyl”.

Also called a zombie drug, Fentanyl acts on opioid receptors in the brain, reducing the transmission of pain nerve impulses and leading to a state of euphoria and relaxation. This causes the person to be in a state of unconsciousness that makes them resemble a zombie. There are also numerous short-term side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation and mental confusion. Fentanyl abuse can be lethal, as just 2-3 milligrams can cause respiratory depression sufficient to cause death by suffocation.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is “up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine”. It can be sold alone or combined with other drugs. There are cases in which it is cut with Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, as always reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How many deaths in the world from fentanyl

First developed in the 1960s in the United States, it is a drug with similar effects to morphine, but with a rapid onset of action. Used together with other drugs, it is used for preoperative anesthesia and in the treatment of severe chronic pain.

But mixed with heroin it can lead to fatal consequences. Suffice it to say that according to the Washington Post in 2021, they have been registered in America 107,622 overdose deathsof which two-thirds were caused by fentanyl.

In recent years, several celebrities have died from fentanyl, highlighting the severity of the drug problem. One of the best known cases is that of Prince, the iconic artist and music producer, who was found dead in an elevator at the age of 57. According to the diagnosis, the cause of his death was a fentanyl overdose. More recently, there has also been talk of the death of rapper Coolio, which was also attributed to a Fentanyl overdose. These tragic events have helped raise public awareness of the risks associated with the abuse of this powerful substance.