Before we get more into America’s fentanyl crisis and how dangerous fentanyl addiction is, it helps to know what the drug is and how it works. Fentanyl is a big factor contributing to the opioid crisis and opioid overdoses. Opioids (heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine) are typically used for treating pain symptoms and are usually prescribed by doctors and then people become addicted quickly.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, made in a lab, used to treat patients with extreme pain (especially after surgery, like morphine.) However, Fentanyl is 50x stronger than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine. This makes the chance even more significant for an overdose; a minor change in dosage can cost you your life.
Tolerance happens when you require a larger and/or more regular dose of a drug to get the desired results. It is sometimes used to treat people with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other medications, and nothing seems to work on them anymore.
How do People Use Fentanyl?
When prescribed by a doctor for extreme pain, fentanyl is usually administered in a patch, shot, pill, liquid, or tablet. However fentanyl is sometimes distributed on the streets as a powder, and this illegal fentanyl can become combined with other products, sometimes on purpose or accidentally through cross-contamination. It sometimes even gets put in eye droppers, nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.
When used as prescribed, this medication serves as an effective pain killer. Illegally used fentanyl is closely associated with America’s recent spike in overdoses.
Fentanyl is often mixed with other narcotics, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because generating a high with fentanyl requires a very small dosage, making it a cheap additive. This is particularly dangerous if drug users do not know that they are consuming the opioid. They may take a dose that is stronger than their bodies can handle and may are likely to overdose.
What Are The Side Effects of Fentanyl?
Fentanyl side effects can be life-threatening and include:
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Weight Loss
- Difficulty Urinating
- Difficulty Breathing
- Difficulty Sleeping
- High Blood Pressure
An Individual can more easily overdose on fentanyl than on any other drug. When people have an overdose of fentanyl, their breathing can slow or stop altogether. Hypoxia causes the amount of oxygen that enters the brain to be decreased and can lead to a coma, irreversible brain damage, and even death.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “From 2017 to 2018, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl, rose 10 percent. More than 31,000 individuals died in 2018 from overdoses involving synthetic opioids.”
America’s Fentanyl Crisis
Fentanyl confiscations rose by almost 7x from 2012 to 2014, according to data from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System. In 2014, there were 4,585 confiscations, this means that the sharp rise in opioid-related deaths could be due to the increased availability of illegally manufactured, non-pharmaceutical, and non-prescribed fentanyl.
The number of states that record 20 or more confiscations of fentanyl per six months is growing.
The most popular drugs implicated in drug overdose overdoses in the United States are now opioids, including fentanyl. In 2020 fentanyl was involved in 80% of opioid-related deaths, compared to 14.3 percent in 2010!
Keep fentanyl out of reach of children; If used unintentionally by a child who has not been prescribed the drug, fentanyl can be life-threatening. Fentanyl, even partially used, can contain a sufficient dose enough to cause severe injury or death.
If you are prescribed Fentanyl, be sure to keep it in a bottle with child safety locks to prevent accidental overdose. Dispose of partly used medication according to the manufacturer’s medication guide immediately after use. If you witness someone who is overdosing on fentanyl or any other opioid call 911 immediately so they can administer an antidote that, if administered quickly enough, can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
Not a New Drug
Fentanyl is not a new drug. It has been around and used in medical settings since the 60s, but it only is getting national attention in the past few years. High publicity deaths, like Prince and George Floyd, pointed the spotlight on fentanyl and its dangerous properties.
Even though America’s fentanyl crisis has only become popular in recent years, opioid use disorder has been plaguing people for a much longer time. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid use disorder contact us for help. Anchored Tides is a female-only treatment environment that encourages growth far beyond drug addiction treatment.