The Dangers of Fentanyl Abuse

Published On: May 31, 2023|Categories: Addiction|
Young women struggling with depression and loneliness.

Fentanyl abuse has spiked in recent decades, leading to an increase in overdoses and deaths.

This synthetic opioid, which is meant to be used only in professional, medically supervised environments, has become a popular recreational drug all around the United States. Though this drug is commonly mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine, it can be found in places like college campuses.

Despite the increasing rate of fentanyl overdoses and deaths within younger and more mature demographics alike, fentanyl abuse continues to rise each year at an alarming rate.

In this article, we’re going to break down the dangers of fentanyl abuse by taking a closer look at what fentanyl is used for, the most common effects it has on users and just how addictive it is.

What is fentanyl used for?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used primarily as a painkiller for those suffering from chronic or acute pain, like that following surgery or accompanying cancer treatments. 

Because of its intense potency, it’s classified under the substance category of “opioids,” which includes both illicit drugs like heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone. Fentanyl is significantly more powerful than most other opioids, which, despite making it an effective painkiller, also means the risk of abuse and overdose is much higher.

In 2021, there were over 70,000 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) in the United States, with the real number predicted to be much higher than that due to how many overdoses go unreported each year.

Why do people abuse fentanyl?

The number one reason people abuse fentanyl is because of how addictive it is.

It could be a patient who has been prescribed an opioid for pain management and developed a substance use disorder because they became addicted to the simultaneous physical pain relief and euphoric mental escape.

It could be someone who started taking illegally produced fentanyl to ignore childhood trauma or to cope with mental health challenges but didn’t realize the fentanyl was laced with other dangerous drugs that triggered an addiction.

The most common negative effects of fentanyl abuse include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Nervous system effects (such as impaired cognitive function)
  • Development of a substance use disorder, dependence or addiction
  • Increased tolerance that leads to higher consumption and stronger doses
  • Sedation, respiratory depression or failure
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be extreme
  • Low blood pressure and slowed heart rate
  • Exacerbated or newly developed mental health disorders
  • Overdose, cardiac arrest and death

How addictive is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is considered one of the most dangerous drugs in the United States, with less than 0.007 percent of an ounce of fentanyl resulting in certain death.

Both pharmaceutically made and illicitly produced fentanyl are highly addictive with a strong potential for the development of a substance use disorder, whether “pure” or mixed with other drugs.

If you think you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, reach out to us today to learn more about the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse.

What is the treatment for fentanyl abuse?

Substance abuse and addiction are complex issues that require patience, perseverance, time and expert support in order to be overcome in the long term. 

While every treatment plan will vary slightly in order to fit the unique needs of each individual patient, there are some common elements to recovering from a substance use disorder.

The first step is to undergo a professional evaluation so that the counselor or psychologist can gain a more thorough understanding of your circumstances, the nature of the substance use disorder, as well as the past or present contributing factors. 

After this initial consultation, we will work closely with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan designed to support you and even your loved ones throughout the recovery process in the best way possible. This plan will vary slightly per individual, as some people will need to be enrolled in a formal rehabilitation clinic, while others might only require consistent therapy or the temporary assistance of a certain medication.

We also provide an extensive continuum of care to ensure you not only achieve sobriety within the program but are prepared to independently and successfully maintain your sobriety once you begin building your new life. You’ll be supported every step of the journey.

Speak with an advisor today

We know that taking the first steps of recovery can be overwhelming or intimidating, but right now, all you have to do is send us a message and we’ll walk you through what to do next.

Whether or not you’re ready to enroll in one of our programs, we’re here to help. Contact us today to speak with an advisor about what your recovery options are.

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