Mass General Hospital addiction specialist explains fentanyl threat

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 12:52 in Health & Medicine

As the opioid crisis rages across the United States, people suffering from addiction as well as the first responders, doctors, and counselors trying to help them are facing another deadly challenge: fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 100 times more powerful than heroin and a growing part of the nation’s illicit drug supply. The Gazette recently spoke with Sarah Wakeman, medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-chair of the MGH Opioid Task Force, and clinical lead for the Partners Healthcare Substance Use Disorder Initiative, about fentanyl and the country’s opioid epidemic. GAZETTE: What is fentanyl? WAKEMAN: Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. “Opioid” is the umbrella term that refers to any substance that is chemically similar to opium, which comes from a poppy and which acts on a certain part of the brain — the opioid receptor. So fentanyl is a type of...

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