As the opioid epidemic exploded across the country, the abuse of fentanyl also increased exponentially. While the pain-relieving drug plays a crucial and legal role in the health care industry as a tool for chronic pain management, including for surgery and cancer patients, improper use of the powerful drug has led to dangerous and often deadly consequences.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic that works by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria and relaxation. The prescription drug, like other opioids, is incredibly addictive.
It’s also extremely dangerous — even when used in very small amounts. Fentanyl is so potent — as much as an estimated 50 to 100 times more so than hydrocodone and morphine — that a dose as tiny as two or three milligrams could be fatal. The drug’s strength means it can easily lead to respiratory depression and result in users going into comas or dying.
In fact, between 2013 and 2016, overdose deaths involving fentanyl reportedly rose 113 percent annually.
Many of these accidental overdoses are the direct result of drug dealers lacing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and counterfeit drugs with fentanyl as a cheap way to give the illegal substances a more powerful kick. As a result, those with opioid and other substance abuse disorders may be unknowingly ingesting potentially fatal doses of fentanyl as they feed their addictions.
If you would like to learn more about therapy during a detox or residential treatment stay or are ready to begin recovery now, contact one of The Mend’s care coordinators to discuss your options.
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