There should be little doubt as to the dangers that synthetic opioids like fentanyl currently pose. This is because fentanyl can be deadly in even minute quantities. Also, it is becoming more and more common that people are overdosing on fentanyl without even knowing that they are taking it. This is because fentanyl is now being integrated into all sorts of other illicit substances without any warning to the user. Yes, the dangers of fentanyl are very real, but, the good news is that there are many effective treatment options for those that struggle with fentanyl addiction.
What Exactly Is Fentanyl?
It can be hard to turn on the television or scroll through a newsfeed without hearing some type of tragic story regarding fentanyl. This is because fentanyl is now part of a broader opioid epidemic that has been going on since the mid to late 1990s. However, while they may hear the term an awful lot, many people do not know exactly what is fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine… Most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl.” Now, it is that “50 to 100 times potency” that makes fentanyl so dangerous. Also, the synthetic nature of the drug makes it readily available and accessible in high quantities, increasing the danger even more.
Understanding the Prevalence of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids
To understand the prevalence of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids like it, one must understand that they are now the leading cause of overdoses and overdose deaths in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), “Overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2019 to 2021 with more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2021. Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021.” These numbers continue to rise.
Another example of the prevalence of fentanyl comes from the “One Pill Can Kill” initiative created by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which keeps track of all of the fentanyl seizures in the U.S. in 2023. Thus far they have seized over 62.4 million fentanyl pills and over 10,495 pounds of fentanyl powder; keeping in mind that just two milligrams of fentanyl can be deadly.
Understanding the Dangers of Fentanyl
Now, of course, the biggest dangers regarding fentanyl are fentanyl overdoses and fentanyl overdose deaths. However, many issues can arise from those who use fentanyl and become addicted.
Fentanyl can quickly overtake everything that was once considered important in an individual’s life. According to NIDA, “After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug. When people become addicted, drug seeking and drug use take over their lives.”
The dangers of fentanyl also include:
- Extreme lethargy and drowsiness, including the chance of becoming unconscious in public
- Painful gastrointestinal problems including extreme periods of constipation
- Trouble breathing
- Becoming confused and not knowing where one is or how they got there
- The potential for increased anxiety and depression
- A loss of enjoyment in activities once enjoyed
- Experiencing extreme mood swings
- The potential for self-harm and/or an increase in suicidal ideations
Now, because fentanyl can be so addictive in such a short amount of time, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. However, the good news is, that once help is sought, there are a myriad of effective treatment options.
The Dangers of Fentanyl: How Can Opioid Use Disorder Best Be Treated
One primary way that fentanyl is treated is via a combination of psychotherapy and medication management. Generally, psychotherapy resides in the realm of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) because this therapy offers one of the better opportunities to get to the issues that are often underlying the addiction. The medication is often Methadone or something similar that can help someone slowly reduce their opioid dependence.
Another important part of battling the dangers of fentanyl is becoming part of a recovery community. For many people, this means joining a 12-Step community, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Our Responsibility Promise at Lantana Recovery
There is something in 12-Step recovery known as “the Responsibility Statement.” It was created over 50 years ago to further cement the 12-Step community’s mission of helping others. The statement goes, “I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of [recovery] always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”
Here at Lantana Recovery, we understand the dangers of fentanyl, and we share in the mission and the responsibility to help those in need. Our hand is always outstretched, whenever someone is ready to grab it.
There is little doubt that there remains an opioid epidemic in the United States. Opioids are also the leading cause of overdose and overdose deaths in the U.S. This is specifically due to the emergence of synthetic opioids like Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a highly dangerous opioid that is showing up in all types of recreational substances more and more. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction issues, we can get you the help you need to make a full and healthy recovery. For more information on the prevalence and dangers of fentanyl addiction, as well as how it can be treated, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.