The dangers of opioid abuse have long been reported in medical circles and in the media. Even though the risks of addiction are high, it seems there’s recently been more talk about fentanyl than other opioids. The drug has been around for decades, but a recent spike in fentanyl overdose deaths has raised serious concerns regarding abuse of the substance.
Someone who realizes they have a problem has several advantages. Their lack of denial makes addiction treatment easier. Unfortunately, even this recognition doesn’t offer reprieve when it comes to fentanyl. The high risk of overdose and even death makes it a particularly dangerous substance, so it’s essential that you seek help immediately if you’re abusing this drug.
Contact Summit Detox today for help. Even an innocent mistake in dosage can lead to fentanyl overdose.
Why Is Fentanyl Dangerous?
Pharmaceutical companies first manufactured fentanyl in 1959. It has long been used for legitimate medical purposes, but America has recently been flooded with illicit versions of the drug. While many opioids are available on the market, fentanyl stands out due to its high risk of overdose. Unfortunately, many fake pills purchased illicitly contain the drug.
The reason this is so dangerous is that the risk of fentanyl overdose is extremely high. That’s because the substance can be 50 times more potent than heroin. Even scarier, it can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. This means a person could take a relatively low dose of a drug they’re addicted to, but if it contains fentanyl, an overdose could easily occur.
If you’re concerned that a friend or family member may be addicted or experience a fentanyl overdose, it’s important to recognize names used on the street for the drug. This can help you notice when something is wrong even if your loved one speaks in code:
- Dance Fever
- Murder 8
- Tango & Cash
The playful nature of many of these overshadows the seriousness of the fentanyl epidemic. Most of America’s opioid deaths now involve the substance. In fact, deaths linked to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased nearly 14-fold between 2012 and 2019. Even if you or a loved one don’t knowingly use the drug, the risk of overdose persists.
This is because the Drug Enforcement Administration found that 42% of counterfeit pills on the market contain at least 2 milligrams of the drug. For some people, this is enough for a fentanyl overdose. To repeat: two milligrams of fentanyl is enough for an overdose. This leaves a very small margin of error, so accidentally or purposefully using the drug even once can lead to death.
If you saw the video of the San Diego deputy experiencing a fentanyl overdose from merely handling the substance, you know just how dangerous it can be.
Fentanyl Abuse Statistics
The massive increase in deaths related to fentanyl in recent years is a sure sign of the risks of addiction. Even the 14-fold increase in deaths leading into 2019, however, doesn’t convey the true seriousness of the fentanyl epidemic. That’s because the world experienced another public health issue — the coronavirus — that made this drug crisis even worse.
The following statistics show how prevalent fentanyl overdoses became during the pandemic — and why this tragedy occurred:
- Experts directly link fentanyl abuse during the pandemic to the first year with potentially 100,000 overdose deaths.
- In just the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers discovered a 108% increase in fentanyl use.
- Nearly 50% of those who use drugs increased their use during the pandemic.
- 38% of those who use drugs reported riskier use due to pills with unknown origins and lack of availability.
- One study found that 7% of participants had stopped taking drugs but relapsed during lockdown orders.
- Rates of depression — a major contributor to substance abuse — tripled among Americans during the pandemic.
Worldwide lockdown and social distancing orders created a “perfect storm” that led to an increase in fentanyl overdoses. Depression and other mental health disorders increased due to social isolation. This created an increase in demand for drugs — which led to a strained black market supply. People, in turn, switched to fentanyl, and traffickers began to lace their pills.
This has had massive societal implications. These range from adding strain to an already strained healthcare system to harming police department budgets by necessitating the use of protective gear. Fortunately, treatment for fentanyl addiction has shown great promise on an individual level. Dealing with the societal implications, however, may require more work.
We may not be able to cure society’s ills, but we can help you get on the path to recovery at Summit Detox. Contact us today to learn how.
Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
A fentanyl overdose is a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, ceasing the use of the drug can also prove dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can be harmful or even fatal if not managed properly, and this is why opiate detox programs are so important. One of the most tragic parts of this drug epidemic, though, is that many people don’t realize they have a problem.
This can be a major hurdle for treatment, so pay attention to the following signs of fentanyl addiction. If you experience these, there’s a good chance you’ve developed a dependency on the drug:
- Taking higher doses of fentanyl than prescribed by a doctor
- Taking fentanyl for longer than prescribed by a doctor
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug
- Continued abuse after a prior fentanyl overdose
- Neglecting responsibilities to use the drug
- Spending long periods acquiring, using, or recovering from fentanyl use
- Continued use after repeat negative consequences
- Rationalizing the use of the drug even when aware of the dangers
This is just a short list of what we typically see with individuals living with fentanyl addiction. Keep in mind that having serious problems in your life isn’t a prerequisite to addiction. Some people manage to keep up with responsibilities even when improperly using the drug. Unfortunately, this does not reduce the risk of fentanyl overdose or the negative effects on the body and mind.
While recognizing the signs of addiction is important, identifying the signs of an overdose could be a matter of life and death. If you or a loved one uses this drug and experience any of the following symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, it’s important to seek emergency care immediately:
- Skin discoloration (particularly in nails and lips)
- Limp body
- Gurgling or choking sounds
- Constricted pupils
- Loss of consciousness or falling asleep
- Weak, slow, or no breathing
- Cold or clammy skin
Getting treatment for fentanyl addiction is an absolute necessity. The danger presented by this drug cannot be overstated, and finding help is just a phone call away. If you think you or someone you love is experiencing a fentanyl overdose, though, don’t hesitate to contact emergency services.
Seek Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction Today
Few drugs are capable of producing the individual, familial, and societal issues created by fentanyl abuse. Even those who don’t knowingly use the substance can become victims of it. Fortunately, addiction does not have to be your reality. Don’t wait until a fentanyl overdose causes lasting damage to your life. Help is available now.
At Summit Detox, our certified professionals have committed themselves to the betterment of each of our clients. From medical detoxification to mental health residential programs, we take a focused and holistic approach to wellness. Don’t become another victim of the fentanyl epidemic. Contact us today to get on the road to recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Drug Enforcement Administration
International Journal of Drug Policy