Downtown Columbus skyline at late dusk / early evening.

Fentanyl: A Deadly New Twist in the Drug Epidemic in Ohio

Over the past few years, the United States has been in the grips of a heroin addiction that has reached crisis levels and is showing no signs of slowing down. As with the rest of the country, the heroin epidemic has had devastating impacts in the state of Ohio. According to information provided by the Ohio Department of Health, 2,482 Ohioans died of drug-related deaths in 2014–and approximately half of these deaths were due to heroin overdoses.

Over the past year, the heroin epidemic in Ohio has taken a new and deadly twist. A dramatic surge in overdose deaths in the state has been attributed to a powerful painkiller called fentanyl that is often mixed with heroin. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and many users do not realize their heroin has been laced with this prescription painkiller. Whether mixed with heroin or taken on its own, fentanyl was involved in 502 overdose deaths in the state in 2014.

Fentanyl use is cause for great concern, and with its use dramatically rising in Ohio the drug has the potential to become the next drug epidemic in the state. If you or a loved one is taking fentanyl, you must seek the professional help of a reputable drug treatment facility. As one of the premier drug treatment facilities in Ohio, Ohio Addiction Recovery Center features the effective and evidence-based drug treatment programming and expert care that will help you achieve lifelong recovery. Call us toll-free today!

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic narcotic that belongs to a family of drugs known as opioids. Opioids are similar to opiates such as heroin and morphine in the fact they derive from opium which is found in the poppy plant. Opioids mimic the pain relieving effects that are found in opiates and are used widely in popular prescription medications.

Fentanyl is commonly used to treat patients with severe pain due to diseases such as cancer and is also used to manage pain after major surgical procedures. Additionally, the drug can be used to treat people with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opiates. Fentanyl can be administered in the variety of ways such as through intravenous injection, transdermal patch, or it can be taken in lozenge form.

Fentanyl works by binding to opiate receptors that are most concentrated in the limbic system of the brain which is the area that controls pain and emotions. When opiate drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.

Blackboard with the chemical formula of Fentanyl

Fentanyl’s Effects of the Body and Brain

Like many prescription medications, fentanyl is intended for short-term use and is very effective when used as prescribed by a doctor and as part of a comprehensive and highly structured pain management program. However, fentanyl also has an extremely high addiction potential and people can become easily hooked on the drug if not taken under strict supervision. For those who become addicted to the drug, they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Constipation, nausea, vomiting
  • Shallow or weak breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating, confusion
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness, Coma

Additional symptoms that are associated with fentanyl abuse can include the weakening of the immune system, respiratory complications, and digestive issues. Additionally, those who abuse fentanyl will experience intense psychological symptoms including increased anxiety, paranoia, extreme shifts in personality and hallucinations.

What are the Dangers of Using Fentanyl on a Recreational Basis?

People who abuse fentanyl and use it on a recreational basis will do so because it produces similar effects to heroin but has a less intense high while producing stronger sedative effects. Oftentimes, people who are addicted to fentanyl can buy transdermal patches that are sold on the black market and they either can apply these patches to their skin or they will cut up the patches and eat them, or take the gel from inside and smoke the drug.

As stated earlier in this article, fentanyl is also used as a cutting agent for heroin. Dealers will mix fentanyl with heroin in order to amplify its potency. While users will experience a more intense euphoria with this mixture, they will also experience drowsiness, respiratory depression and arrest, nausea, confusion, constipation, unconsciousness, coma and even death. Dealers will also use fentanyl as a cutting agent with cocaine and will sell this combination on the street under the names magic or bomb. 

As also stated earlier, many people who take fentanyl either on its’ own or in combination with other drugs are unaware of its’ potency and will take a dose which will bring about an overdose in a quicker timeframe. Additionally, fentanyl is often produced at large illegal laboratories which don’t test the potency of the product. As a result, users are not only unaware of the strength of fentanyl, the drug can also have other chemicals which can cause a variety of serious health issues.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help For Fentanyl Addiction

Like many other drug addictions, those who are addicted to fentanyl in Ohio will need the experienced and professional intervention that is provided by a reputable inpatient drug treatment facility. For those who try to quit fentanyl “cold turkey” or trying to utilize methods of self-detoxification can run the risk of developing health complications that can pose serious risks to their health and life.

When fentanyl addicts proper drug treatment, they will be able to withdraw from the drug in a safe and highly supervised environment. As with other opiate and opioid drugs, medications such as suboxone may be used in the medical detox process to help minimize withdrawal symptoms. Once users are stable and substance free, they can transition into and intensive inpatient drug treatment program to deal with the causes of their drug addiction. Through treatment services such as therapy, life and coping skills training and relapse prevention education, addicts can get the tools and support they need to overcome their fentanyl addiction and move forward in recovery with confidence.

Break the Vicious Cycle of Fentanyl Addiction with the Help of Ohio Addiction Recovery Center

In order to truly experience freedom from the ravages of fentanyl addiction, you need to find a quality drug treatment center which features experienced staff and proven drug treatment programs that are evidence-based and can be individually tailored to meet your unique needs. Call the experienced addiction professionals at Ohio Addiction Recovery Center today and find out how we can help turn your dream of lifelong recovery into reality.

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