Fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids available on the market today. It is a synthetic narcotic that has been linked to an increase in fatal overdoses across the United States and other countries.
But what do you really know about fentanyl? We’ve compiled a list of five things you may not know about this powerful opioid, from its history to its medical uses and more. Keep reading to learn more about this controversial drug, and how it is impacting public health around the world.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent.
It is a schedule II prescription drug, and is approved for treating severe pain. However, because of its high potential for abuse and addiction, it is often used illegally.
When used illegally, it is often sold as a powder, which can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It is also sometimes mixed into other opiates like heroin to increase their potency. However, this is partially what makes it dangerous, because in illegal settings dosages are not strictly controlled and this can lead to overdose.
Fentanyl can cause a number of serious side effects including respiratory depression (which can lead to death), drowsiness, confusion, constipation, nausea and vomiting.
How Is Fentanyl Used?
Fentanyl is typically prescribed by doctors to treat patients who are in severe pain, such as cancer patients or those who have recently undergone surgery. Fentanyl can be prescribed as a patch, lozenge, or injection, and is sometimes used in combination with other drugs, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
However, because of its high potency and potential for abuse, fentanyl carries a high risk for addiction and overdose. This is why fentanyl addiction has been such a concern in the US over the last decade.
In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of accidental overdoses and deaths due to fentanyl abuse.
In many cases, people who are addicted to opioids switch to fentanyl because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than other drugs. Fentanyl is often sold on the streets as a powder or mixed with other substances, such as heroin or cocaine, which can make it even more dangerous.
The Dangers Of Fentanyl
The biggest dangers of fentanyl— as opposed to heroin and other opiates, which are dangerous on their own— is its potency and stealth.
As mentioned above fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and just a few milligrams can be deadly. This is to say, the tiniest bit of powder can cause an overdose. People who use drugs like heroin— and increasingly more common— prescription opiates like Vicodin and Oxycontin, are in fact taking fentanyl.
The drug is often used to cut other drugs, like heroin, which increases the risk of overdose. But other prescription drugs, created to look like Vicodin or Oyxcontin, are actually fentanyl that looks like those drugs. This is also due to its potency. Because it’s potent it’s easier to transport because of its size, so dealers often try to make it look like other, more familiar drugs.
Although there is some debate around the topic, it’s possible fentanyl is also easily absorbed through the skin, so accidental exposure can be fatal. The drug has been linked to a number of high-profile overdoses in recent years, including the death of musician Prince.
Of course, fentanyl also carries the risks of other opiates, such as addiction. Opiates are some of the most addictive substances known to man, and addiction when using them is shockingly common.
Who Is At Risk For Fentanyl Addiction?
Who is at risk for fentanyl addiction? Anyone who takes the drug recreationally or without a prescription is at risk. Even those who take it based on the prescriptions of unscrupulous doctors can be at risk, as well. But there are certain groups of people who are more likely to abuse fentanyl and become addicted:
People with a history of substance abuse: If you have abused other drugs in the past, you are more likely to abuse fentanyl as well. This is because you may be seeking out a stronger high, and fentanyl can provide that— dangerously.
People with chronic pain: People who suffer from chronic pain may be prescribed fentanyl to help them manage their pain. However, because of the way the drug affects the brain, they may become addicted to it.
People with mental illness: Mental illness can also increase the risk of addiction, as people may turn to drugs to self-medicate their symptoms.
Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how to treat fentanyl addiction, as the most effective approach depends on the individual’s unique situation and needs. However, there are some general principles that can be followed in order to provide the best possible care.
Detoxification: The first step in treating fentanyl addiction is typically detoxification, which involves getting the individual off of the drug and allowing their body to adjust to being without it. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it is necessary in order to start the road to recovery.
Rehabilitation: Once detox has been completed, it is important to begin rehabilitation in order to address the underlying causes of addiction and help the individual develop healthy coping mechanisms. This can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction.
medication: In some cases, medication may be used as part of treatment for fentanyl addiction. This may include drugs that help reduce withdrawal symptoms or block the effects of opioids.
Counseling, support and aftercare: Counseling and support groups, along with aftercare from an addiction treatment center like ours, can be invaluable resources for those recovering from fentanyl addiction. They provide a safe space to share experiences and feelings, and offer guidance and support through difficult times.If you think you or someone you know might be addicted to fentanyl or other opiates, please give us a call at (844) 989-1451 and we can discuss treatment options.