Why Fentanyl Is Becoming So Prevalent in America
What Is Fentanyl?
Within the United States, there has been a rising number of individuals that the opioid epidemic has impacted. The effects of this devastating drug addiction have become a widely publicized issue that has increased the level of awareness and concern for those affected. While many have heard about the opioid epidemic and the potentially lethal use of fentanyl either on its own or combined with other drugs, the history of this drug and its original intended usage are not always as well known.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning that it is not derived from the opium poppy plant but rather is created within laboratories to produce similar effects as opioids. Fentanyl is a semi-synthetic opioid, which is made with natural opium involved in the synthesis. The use of fentanyl was initially used to support individuals in mitigating and treating severe, chronic pain disorders or for patients undergoing major surgery and require follow-up care and treatment for pain following their surgery or procedure. Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance with a potency of 100 times more than morphine. It can be used within varying methods, including snorting, injecting, smoking, through a transdermal patch, and ingesting. The use of fentanyl can be safe when the patient is being monitored by a trained medical professional who can ensure that patients remain within the prescribed dosage that avoids threats to an individual’s health and well-being while avoiding developing a fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl abuse has become a national crisis, with thousands of Americans succumbing to this powerful, devastating addiction. Over half of all overdose-related deaths are caused by fentanyl poisoning, whether from using fentanyl on its own or consuming other illicit substances mixed with lethal doses of fentanyl. In 2020 alone, there were 42,700 deaths from a fentanyl overdose. With the growing number of individuals being impacted by the fentanyl crisis, there is no time better than now to address your fentanyl addiction within an addiction treatment center.
Important Things to Know About Fentanyl
While fentanyl originated as a prescription drug, throughout the opioid epidemic, there has been a dramatic increase in the production and manufacturing of illicit fentanyl smuggled from foreign countries into the United States. The chemical compounds of fentanyl being shipped across the border are not regulated, such as the prescription, FDA approved medicine. This means that the amount of fentanyl placed within the pressed tabs brought over to the U.S. will have varying levels of fentanyl, including lethal doses, without the individual knowing. Due to the low cost of fentanyl, many drug dealers have begun mixing fentanyl with other drugs, including heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine which can increase the likelihood of a fatal drug interaction among the drug abuser.
The production of illicit fentanyl does not follow an exact formula or procedure, which leads to varying levels of fentanyl being used from batch to batch, leading to lethal doses being created. As little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be deadly to a person depending on the person’s physical size, history of drug abuse, and tolerance that has developed to fentanyl. There have been reports from the DEA of counterfeit fentanyl being seized that had 0.2 to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl which is twice the lethal dose of fentanyl, therefore, significantly impacting the rates of drug overdose rate among Americans.
Physical Effects of Fentanyl
Fentanyl use can significantly impact a person’s body and brain functioning. The longer you engage in fentanyl abuse, the more likely you will experience severe negative physical and psychological consequences.
Fentanyl has been known to produce effects within the body such as:
- Pain mitigation and relief
- Pupillary constriction
- Urinary retention
- Tightness in the throat
- Slowed heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Depressed breathing, irregular breaths, or shallow breaths
In rare or extreme cases of prolonged fentanyl abuse, individuals may experience the following side effects and impacts on their bodies:
- Reduced urine output
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Kidney damage
- Dyskinesia, meaning individuals experiencing difficulties with voluntary movements
- Bloating or swelling within the face or other extremities
- Stinging skin or other skin conditions such as eczema
- Severe headaches or unexplained pains in the head
- Having severe chills
- Abnormally low blood pressure
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How to Recognize a Fentanyl Overdose
With the alarming rate of individuals experiencing fentanyl overdose, it is crucial to understand the signs and indicators of a fentanyl overdose. The more information made public to others about the impact of fentanyl overdose will equip the general public with the knowledge and education to know when to intervene and potentially save a life by early detection of someone experiencing a fentanyl overdose.
Common signs and indicators of fentanyl overdose are:
- Low blood pressure
- Limp body or weakness within the body
- Cold or clammy skin
- Significant changes to the pupillary size
- Blue colored lips and fingernails
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Reduced or loss of consciousness
Typically a fentanyl overdose will display itself within a person with many symptoms at once, such as depressed breathing, pinpoint pupils, and reduced levels of consciousness. If you witness an individual displaying a number of these signs and indicators, it is indicative of a fentanyl overdose that needs to be intervened with the proper medical treatment immediately.
Getting Help After Surviving a Fentanyl Overdose
If someone is experiencing a fentanyl overdose, it is essential to act immediately with appropriate medical interventions that will work to reduce the adverse side effects of a fentanyl overdose. The most effective form of medical and health treatment for an opioid overdose is the use of naloxone. Naloxone has been proven to be the most effective method of saving lives during the opioid overdose crisis. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects and fights opioid overdose. Naloxone helps restore an individual’s breathing levels to normal functioning and overcome the potentially fatal opioid overdose. If naloxone is given to an individual that has not engaged in opioid abuse, there are no adverse side effects. This process alleviates any concern about administering naloxone to the wrong person as there are no negative consequences if you are unsure if the person has used heroin and fentanyl, or other opioids. Naloxone can be administered through a nasal spray or an injection. Anyone can access naloxone kits by simply contacting a public health official or pharmacist who guides you on how to effectively and adequately use naloxone.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
When you or a loved one are ready to begin seeking treatment, the first step to take is to address the physical dependence on heroin and fentanyl developed throughout your opioid addiction. Accessing a drug detox program will allow patients to safely end the use of opioids with the ongoing medical supervision of highly trained nurses and doctors that specialize in safe, effective detox processes. A drug detox program will allow patients to move through their drug withdrawal symptoms with the support of different treatment methods, including medications to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms. They will also reduce any drug cravings, behavioral health treatment, and holistic practices to treat any severe withdrawal symptoms naturally.
Once you have completed your drug detox program, you will be physically healthy enough to begin an addiction treatment program to address the root causes of your opioid addiction. With the support of behavioral health therapy, education for relapse prevention methods, trauma therapy, and dual diagnosis treatment to treat and manage any co-occurring mental health and substance abuse concerns. For long-lasting success in addiction recovery, patients need to identify what has been underneath their addictive behaviors and understand environmental, emotional, and physical triggers to effectively overcome those stressors and develop strategies for relapse prevention in the future.
Drug Rehab at Muse Treatment in Los Angeles
At Muse Treatment Center, we offer patients everything they need to address and heal from opioid addiction with the support of our comprehensive addiction treatment programs that utilize the latest in evidence-based therapy methods. We believe that each patient has a unique set of needs and personal circumstances that have led to your opioid addiction, which requires the need for individualized care from our compassionate team. Throughout your healing journey, we will be by your side every step of the way to support you in developing a new solid foundation in addiction recovery. You will be equipped with the tools for self-regulation, healthy boundaries and communication with others, overcoming triggers, and holistic pain reliever methods that will keep you away from prescription opioid abuse as a method to treat future pain. Patients leave our facility with the inner strength, confidence, and courage to live the life in sobriety that they have always wanted.
Contact Muse Addiction Treatment Center at (800) 426-1818 today to hear more about the individualized treatment programs offered to our patients to overcome opioid or drug addiction today.