Synthetic opioids refer to a category of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) that are either known to be opiates or have opiate-like effects. Fentanyl is perhaps the most well-known of the synthetic opioids, since it has been extensively researched and is one of the only substances approved for prescription use.
When fentanyl is prescribed it is a safe and effective pain reliever as long as the recommended dosage and usage frequency is followed, and any side-effects are reported to the medical provider. People at highest risk of fatal overdose are those who unknowingly take fentanyl.
When it comes to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, we must ensure that any new laws do not imitate ineffective drug war tactics by relying on criminal punishment rather than a public health approach.