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Exploring Synthetic Heroin: Accounts of Acetyl Fentanyl Use From a Sample of Dually Diagnosed Drug Offenders

NCJ Number
Drug and Alcohol Review Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 121-127
J. M. Miller; John M. Stogner; Bryan L. Miller; Scott Blough
Date Published
7 pages
This study explored the nature of acetyl fentanyl use by collecting first hand qualitative data from users, so as to inform public health and drug control policy responses.
Acetyl fentanyl, a fentanyl analogue emerging onto the recreational drug scene, has caused numerous recent fatal overdoses in the United States, Europe, and Russia. Studies of acetyl fentanyl use are currently limited to case studies and mortality reports. The current study held a series of focus group interviews within the Delaware County Jail (Ohio). Participants were 102 individuals participating in one of two focus groups sponsored by the U.S. Justice Departmentfs Bureau of Justice Assistancefs Second Chance Act substance use treatment initiatives. Five of these individuals reported acetyl fentanyl use. Semi]structured qualitative focus group sessions queried subjects about their preferred drugs for personal use and the nature of their drug use. Responses were analyzed in follow]up organic discourse. Acetyl fentanyl users were generally unaware that they had administered the substance until after its use, initially believing that they were administering heroin. They described the effects of acetyl fentanyl as stronger and qualitatively different from heroin. They had no interest in using acetyl fentanyl again, describing it as unpleasant and more risky, both because of potency and the threat of a ebad batchf. Thus, acetyl fentanyl is reaching heroin users, some of whom administer it unknowingly. This study recommends the regulation of acetyl fentanyl in all countries, since the public is becoming increasing aware that this substance is distinct from and being sold as heroin. (publisher abstract modified)