Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. Because of the dangers of abuse, it is usually only prescribed in extreme circumstances. If a person is experiencing severe pain but has developed a tolerance to other pain medications, fentanyl may be the only medication that works for them due to its extreme strength.
Fentanyl can certainly be helpful to some when used as intended and within the guidelines set by medical professionals. However, the dangers of fentanyl need to be understood. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl cause more overdose deaths in the United States than any other illicit substance. This problem is also one that continues to get worse. In 2010, just 14.3% of opioid deaths involved fentanyl use. However, in 2017 that number climbed up to 59%. Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs in the United States and is currently at the forefront of the opioid crisis this nation is facing.
The primary reasons why fentanyl has become such a dangerous drug are twofold: the strength of the drug and the cost. The strength of most opioids is generally compared to morphine, which was one of the first opioids used for medical treatment. For example, methadone is approximately three times as strong as morphine, whereas heroin is five times as strong as morphine. Fentanyl is nearly 100 times stronger than morphine.
Despite the immense strength, it is often sold at a cost far below that of pure heroin. There are multiple reasons for this price difference. For starters, fentanyl is synthetic and therefore can be produced cheaper than drugs that use natural opium in their creation. Additionally, many manufacturers cut fentanyl with other substances to reduce costs even further.
Because of the lower costs, users may not fully understand the potency of fentanyl. For example, if a person is accustomed to heroin use, they may use even more fentanyl than they usually use heroin. They would assume that it is weaker because the cost is lower than that of pure heroin. This wrong assumption could easily lead to someone overdosing.
Due to the potency of fentanyl, the side effects are often incredibly intense. If injected directly into the bloodstream, as it is commonly used, the effects usually occur within seconds of injection. Possible side effects of fentanyl use include:
When fentanyl is taken in too large of a dose, the body may begin to fail due to an overload of toxicity. This is the cause of an overdose. An overdose of fentanyl could lead someone to pass out or fall into a coma. Overdoses can lead to organ failure, specifically of the heart, lungs, or liver. Opioid overdoses can often be fatal.
If you suspect someone you know may be abusing fentanyl, there are certain warning signs to watch out for. Some signs of fentanyl use include:
If you suspect that someone around you may be suffering from a substance abuse disorder, it is important to encourage them to seek professional medical help as soon as possible.
Because of the severity of fentanyl addiction, it is best to seek treatment as quickly as possible. Most people suffering from a fentanyl addiction will have to begin their journey towards recovery with a detox program. Detox programs help support a person during the withdrawal process, which can be a challenging time. Fentanyl is so highly addictive and withdrawal can be a dangerous process and should also be done under the supervision of medical professionals.
At True Recovery in Newport Beach, CA, we focus on more than just your addiction. Our addiction treatment program is designed to help you achieve your recovery goals; whether it’s your first time seeking help or you’ve sought help in the past, we create a customized plan to help you during your addiction recovery and beyond.
Our professional and highly-trained staff provide a number of services, including addiction counseling, in a safe and comfortable environment. In addition, we’ll help you identify and work toward your personal goals. We focus on your life as a whole and help you center yourself and rediscover your passions to say goodbye to substance abuse for good.