The opioid epidemic has sparked a lot of discussion on how we can monitor prescription drug abuse, but there has become a rise in illegal opioid use as well, and it’s even taking thousands of Americans lives. For example, the transition from prescription to opioids to heroin off the street has grown, as it’s become harder for just anyone to obtain prescription opioids – and heroin seems to be a bit cheaper, too. Unfortunately, over 70,000 deaths occurred in 2017 because of opioids – but the majority of the deaths that occurred were related to a drug called fentanyl, which is incredibly dangerous.
Put briefly, fentanyl is a painkiller that is similar to morphine but much more potent. There are different names that it goes by in prescription form, but it’s street name often goes by Apache, China Girl, Dance Fever, Friend and more. Fentanyl may be prescribed by the doctor to be taken through injection, lozenges or through a patch, especially if a person just recently had surgery and needs something to help ease the after-pain. It’s incredibly easy to misuse, however, and that’s when it becomes deadly.
Fentanyl was created around 1960 and is inexpensively made in a lab. Because of this, various drug cartels have capitalized on it – and many have started making their own version of it, even laced with other drugs like cocaine. As one could imagine, this can be incredibly toxic as a person may not fully know what all it’s mixed with – and if a bad chemical reaction occurs, it could take a life. Additionally, despite common belief, there is no way to tell that fentanyl is solely what’s been given to a person. An actual lab test would need to be conducted in order to be completely sure.
Fentanyl doesn’t work any differently in the brain than other drugs would – it still triggers an influx of feel-good chemicals that are in the brain, resulting in the brain wanting more and more of it. The difference, however, is how quickly the drug’s chemicals bind to opioid receptors in the brain. When a person takes fentanyl, the high is immediate – and that’s another part of what makes it so deadly.
With such a strong potency, this means that fentanyl would need to be taken at an extremely low dose in order to achieve a similar “high” – but because the amount is so little, many people aren’t aware of how important it is to measure out each dose, and many unfortunate cases revolve around individuals taking whatever amount they believe would be appropriate – despite recommendations.
Aside from binding to opioid receptors rapidly, fentanyl produces a number of side effects – such as nausea and vomiting, sedation, and respiratory depression (respiratory arrest is how most people die from this drug). The rising number of deaths have left many devastated. Studies over the years have shown that Florida and Ohio are amongst the top states which have experienced such steep increases in fentanyl use. Overdose deaths from fentanyl use have increased dramatically, placing so many lives at stake and leaving so many families to mourn the loss of their loved one.
Physicians have explored the ways in which we could combat the fentanyl issue, one of which has involved educating the greater community more on what fentanyl is and the dangerous effects that it can produce. Another has involved the increased use of treatment for those battling with addiction, including the potential of using medications like Naltrexone to help a person feel less pain as they detox from drugs.
Researchers, policymakers and community leaders alike are working together to find ways to combat this issue – because we can’t continue losing lives. Of course, everyone in our surrounding communities can truly work together to help protect others from the harms of fentanyl – because nothing will change until we take the time to help one another step away from this deadly drug.
Seek Help Now
If you or a loved one has been struggling with drug addiction, seek the help you need before it’s too late. Your life matters – and there are people who can help you get through this. Treatment at Avalon Malibu is possible, and there are several strategies that can be used to help you seek healing.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life.