The Fentanyl Epidemic: Everything You Need to Know
The fentanyl epidemic is an ongoing struggle for many people across the United States. While there are many warnings surrounding the dangers of this drug, it is still an incredibly prevalent and widely abused substance that has caused countless addictions for a number of different reasons. Fentanyl is also one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse due to its potency.
Understanding how fentanyl became so pervasive is important when starting one's sobriety journey or supporting a loved one suffering from an addiction to the drug. Fentanyl is highly versatile and incredibly potent and addictive. It is never too late to take the first step to overcoming an addiction to this widespread and destructive substance.
A Powerful Synthetic Opioid
Opioids are a powerful class of drugs derived from the seeds of poppy plants and can have drastic effects on one's body and mind. While opioids have been used across the medical world in painkillers like morphine—especially in cases of extreme pain such as late-stage cancer—their use quickly became prominent on the black market
Illicit opioids, such as heroin, capitalize on the drug's powerful mind-altering effects to produce a high, despite the health risks. While fentanyl is an opioid, it is a synthetic opioid and carries a different level of danger.
Rather than a “natural” opioid, synthetic opioids are created in a lab. As a result, they can be much more potent. While this means that some synthetic opioids can be highly effective painkillers, they can also be much more addictive and have further exaggerated effects on an individual's mind.
Their use within the medical field is highly specialized and regulated, yet the ability to synthesize these drugs for illicit means has led to a number of complicated and far-reaching consequences. Some of these consequences include ever-increasing potency, destructive effects, and addictive potential. Just as these effects become more drastic, so does the potential for addiction and fatal overdose.
The Widespread Prevalence of Fentanyl
Fentanyl has reached epidemic status for many reasons. Fentanyl can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from tablets and patches to injections and more. It is also commonly cut into other illegal drugs sold on the streets, and many recreational drug users may be exposed to fentanyl without knowing and can become unwittingly and unwillingly addicted.
The ability to lace fentanyl into other drugs, such as marijuana, can create unexpected dangers for the user. Drugs unknowingly laced with fentanyl become even more addictive and carry a great deal of unexpected psychoactive effects. Even a small grain of fentanyl can cause an overdose.
Street-level synthetic opioids also carry an additional danger, as they are completely unregulated. While opioids produced in the medical sphere may have ingredient labels available, it is very difficult to track how they are made outside of this context. The illegal production of fentanyl can lead to even more potent and dangerous effects. It can be incredibly difficult to know exactly what an individual is using and how dangerous it may be.
Because of their unexpected and unregulated nature, overdoses on fentanyl are common, especially if an individual is unaware of the presence of fentanyl in other drugs.
From Prescriptions to Addiction
An individual does not have to seek out illicit drugs to be exposed to fentanyl. While its use in the medical field is strictly regulated and there are many warnings attached when prescribing these drugs, any exposure to these synthetic opioids can cause addiction. Even if an individual closely follows directions, prescription fentanyl can become addictive, making them a dangerous and volatile substance.
Addictions developed even while following prescriptions guidelines can cause an individual to seek out street alternatives when the prescription expires. Common replacements can lead to the use of heroin or turning to street-level fentanyl, which may be even more powerful than prescribed versions.
With fentanyl already being much more potent than other options, and more so when they are obtained illegally, these drugs can have drastic effects on the body.
Whether an individual is exposed to fentanyl on the streets or through a gateway in a medical setting, the prevalence of fentanyl has many different avenues contributing to its epidemic status.
The Effects of Fentanyl Use
Fentanyl has a number of effects on the body, on top of its pain-killing properties. Some of the effects include:
Compromised motor skills
Bluish/purplish lips, feet, or fingertips
Additional effects can include unconsciousness and slowed breathing. This can cause breathing to be fatally slowed, resulting in an overdose. Fentanyl's ability to slow natural bodily processes can lead to many disastrous results, with potentially fatal outcomes.
Tackling a Fentanyl Addiction
The fentanyl epidemic has led to a drastic number of fatal overdoses as a result of the drug's extreme potency, easily hidden nature, and high addiction rate. Overcoming an addiction to fentanyl is always possible. Acknowledging the prevalence and dangers fentanyl presents is crucial in taking the first step toward a healthier future. A drug rehab is an ideal place to receive treatment for fentanyl addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with the dangerous and addictive effects of fentanyl, we at The Edge Treatment Center are prepared to help you take the first step toward a healthier life today. We understand the unique and destructive effects of fentanyl and are prepared to personalize a treatment program to help you recover.
The Edge Treatment Center will also help guide you through each stage of the recovery process, from detox to outpatient treatment. Call us at (800) 778-1772.