While the vast majority of the country’s attention is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic continues to rage on. In fact, rates opioid overdose are increasing and are expected to continue to do so as the pandemic continues. The challenges the United States faces with opioids are not wiped out because something more significant is occurring, rather it is quite the opposite. These challenges are growing and expanding all while more and more people turn to the use of opioids for relief. At this vulnerable time, opioids such as fentanyl can seem like an easy-out for people suffering from pandemic fatigue, emotional distress, mental anguish, depression, and anxiety. Unfortunately, however, the use of fentanyl is extremely dangerous and can be deadly even in the smallest of doses.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning that it is produced and manufactured by humans. Many of the most popular opioids on the market today are synthetic, including oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Heroin, codeine, morphine, and opium are naturally-occurring opiates that are derived directly from the poppy plant.
Fentanyl is 80-100 times stronger than naturally-occurring opiates like morphine and heroin. Morphine is 1.5 times more potent than oxycodone, meaning that fentanyl is by far the most powerful of opioids on the market. It was originally developed to help treat pain in cancer patients, however it has become more mainstream in the medical field as an option for severe physical pain. It comes in the form of a patch, lozenge, nasal spray, sublingual tab, buccal tab, and an injectable solution. It can also be produced in pill-form. When fentanyl is carefully administered by a medical professional for the treatment of severe pain, it can be highly beneficial for patients in need. However, the use of fentanyl for any other purposes can be (and often is) deadly.
The fentanyl that is most commonly found on the streets is not the fentanyl that doctors and nurses are using to treat patients with pain. Instead, the fentanyl that people scoop up from dealers is typically a manmade mixture of several different substances and chemicals that can produce the same effects as prescription fentanyl does. This makes street fentanyl highly dangerous, as users can never really be sure what is in it.
Street fentanyl is responsible for the huge rise in fentanyl addiction and overdose in the country. It is fairly simple to produce and easy to sell since there is such a high demand for it. Fentanyl purchased on the street often contains the following:
- Quinine (anti-malaria drug)
- Diphenhydramine (allergy medication that produces drowsiness)
- Benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan)
- Heroin and/or prescription opioids
The goal of those selling fentanyl on the street is to have as much of it as possible in order to turn the greatest profit. That is why most street fentanyl contains other opioids, as it makes it more powerful but expands the amount that can be sold.
Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is not a drug to be played around with. The effects of it are not a joke. The potential for it to kill someone who uses it on their first try is astronomical compared to other drugs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fentanyl remains one of the most commonly abused opioids in the United States, which is highly unfortunate because the abuse of it is extremely dangerous.
Some of the greatest dangers associated with fentanyl abuse include the following:
- Using unknown substances – As mentioned before, street fentanyl is manufactured with several different substances, including benzodiazepines. The combination of benzos and opioids is lethal in itself, as both substances are depressants and can quickly lead to a full shut down of the respiratory system. Because street fentanyl can include many various substances, a person can never really know what they are ingesting. This increases the risk for overdose.
- Loss of coordination — Fentanyl suppresses all the basic functions of the body, including one’s physical ability to move about. The loss of coordination that often develops when someone is under the influence of fentanyl can lead to car wrecks and trips, falls, and other physical accidents. Any one of these issues caused by poor coordination can be fatal.
- Coma — Because fentanyl is so strong, it often leads to failure of the respiratory system. If unable to breathe, an individual can suffer hypoxia, which can cause them to slip into a coma as a result of the damage the brain has incurred because of the lack of oxygen it received. Depending on the severity of the situation, a person can come out of a coma and experience long-term effects of it or they can die as a result of too much damage.
- Health problems — Prolonged abuse of a drug as potent as fentanyl can cause severe mental and physical health problems. They can include vital organ damage and/or failure, the development of certain types of cancers, depression, and anxiety disorders. The longer that fentanyl is abused, the more likely these potential problems become, which is why staying away from fentanyl is vital.
There is no safe way to consume street fentanyl. There is no safe way to consume prescription fentanyl if it is not being administered by a medical professional. The use of fentanyl is so dangerous that many people lose their lives to it more than most other opioids. The smallest pinch of a few tiny granules of fentanyl is enough to kill a person, which is why fentanyl is as dangerous as it is.
Fentanyl Treatment in Ohio
If you are addicted to fentanyl or any other mind-altering substance, reach out to us right now. We understand how challenging it can be for you to overcome your battle with addiction on your own. You do not have to go through this by yourself.
Call Ohio ARC right now to learn more about how we can help you.