A synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin
Used primarily as anesthesia or for cancer patients who need to manage extreme levels of pain, fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid that’s 80-100 times stronger than morphine, 50 times more potent than heroin, and incredibly addictive because it adheres to pain receptors in a manner that other substances aren’t able to.
What Is Fentanyl Addiction?
It was the cause of accidental overdoses that claimed the lives of several celebrated musicians in recent years, but fentanyl addiction isn’t limited to celebrities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite illegally produced fentanyl as the main driver between the rise in deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses.
Fentanyl is particularly lethal because when compared to heroin, the high is pretty short-lived. As a result, Fentanyl requires more frequent use to maintain the level of high someone is seeking. And because of the underground drug market’s lack of regulation, many times users aren’t even aware they’re addicted to — or consuming — fentanyl because it’s been cut in with others substances including cocaine and heroin.
Given that fentanyl is a synthetic drug, it’s relatively cheap to make, readily available, and can easily bolster the potency of substances someone is already using.
Negative Effects of Fentanyl
Like the majority of opioids, fentanyl is a depressant. Not only does it decrease heart rate and respiration as it relieves pain, but it provides a sense of euphoria and causes drowsiness. Fentanyl is particularly addictive because of its potency. A person taking prescription fentanyl as instructed by a doctor can experience dependence, which is characterized by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.
The side effects of using Fentanyl vary from individual to individual and include everything from confusion and sweating to constipation, dizziness, vomiting, muscle weakness, and unconsciousness. In an overdose situation, several doses of Naloxone may be required to successfully counteract fentanyl’s effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite illegally produced fentanyl as the main driver between the rise in deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses.
Fentanyl by the Numbers
- According to data from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), confiscations or seizures of fentanyl increased by nearly seven fold from 2012 to 2014. There were 4,585 fentanyl confiscations in 2014.
- Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyl and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000 from 3,000.
- Deaths involving fentanyl increased more than 45% in 2017.
- Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl (but excluding methadone), were responsible for more than 28,000 deaths in the US in 2017.
- Fentanyl accounts for 29% of all overdose deaths (almost a third!) with more than 18,000 fatalities in 2016. Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl rose about 113% per year from 2013 to 2016.
- Two out of five cocaine-related overdose deaths also involved fentanyl, while nearly one-third of fentanyl-related fatalities also involved heroin.
Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
- Confusion and disorientation
- Breathing problems/lack of oxygen
- Hot flashes
- Brain injury due to depression of respiratory functions
- Immunity and cardiovascular degeneration
Help for Fentanyl Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to fentanyl, we’re here for you. Instead of a quick fix, our compassionate team of experts at The Meadows is waiting to help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery that focuses on the whole person by addressing any underlying mental health conditions that may be perpetuating fentanyl abuse.
Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!