Law enforcement in Wyoming has seized more dosage units of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl so far in 2022 than it did in all of 2021, according to a news release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

When prescribed correctly, fentanyl -- 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine -- is a source of pain relief for cancer patients, according to the news release from Sgt. Jeremy Beck.

But the illicit version is often sold on its own or cut into other illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine and bogus prescription pills. Depending on the user's body and tolerance, fentanyl can be highly addictive if not fatal.

It is so potent that it can affect a person by contact with skin or mucous membranes, or inhaled.

So on Sunday, Wyoming will observe National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day to recognize the dangers of the drug.

Its presence in Wyoming has grown exponentially in the past several years, Beck wrote.

In 2020, law enforcement seized 1,663 dosage units and .27 pounds of fentanyl in Wyoming, a 3,876% over 2019.

Last year, 11,135 dosage units and 64.83 pounds of the drug were seized for an increase of 10,539%.

So far in 2022, law enforcement has seized more than 13,398 dosage units.

"Prevention and education is a definite power to help others make educated choices," Beck wrote.

"We are warning the public that illicit Fentanyl is prevalent in the United States and can cause sudden death," he wrote. "We simply want to educate about the dangers of illicit Fentanyl and inform and reduce victim fatalities."

If you suspect someone has taken fentanyl, call 911 immediately.

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