The past decade has been subject to an overwhelming epidemic, an outbreak that has taken the reigns on America’s drug market and taken the lives of young people nationwide. The epidemic, triggered by highly-addictive prescription painkillers and illicit opiates like heroin, contributed to over 29,000 opiate overdose deaths in one year alone.
This is just the beginning – Now, an even more threatening opioid drug has reached the streets: illicit fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a powerful, synthetic opioid that started its life as a carefully-monitored, analgesic prescription drug. Chemically similar to morphine, fentanyl is typically used in medical facilities and prescribed to treat patients with severe or chronic pain.
When taken unsupervised, however, fentanyl can be lethal. The opioid drug is much more potent than its relatives: Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, 50 times stronger than heroin, and is intensified even more in combination with other drugs. The half-life of fentanyl is under four hours, meaning that its effects happen quickly and hit hard when they do. For this reason, fentanyl is progressively becoming of the most favored – and most dangerous – drugs abused by young adults.
Because of its high potency, in addition to its high possibility of rapid death, fentanyl is fatal even in very small doses. If a fentanyl overdose occurs, it often takes multiple doses of naloxone to reverse.
It’s no wonder, then, why experts are now alerting health departments, health care professionals, first responders, and others about the dangers of fentanyl abuse.
Just last month, the Center of Disease Control released a public warning regarding a dramatic surge in fentanyl-related deaths. They found that, from 2013 to 2014, 426 percent more street drugs tested positive for fentanyl. In the same twelve-month period, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids increased 79 percent.
The facts are clear: Pharmaceutical fentanyl has diverted from legitimate medical use to illegal drug abuse. Even more, the upshot of drugs containing fentanyl has evidently led to the profound increases in drug-related deaths: specifically, fentanyl overdoses.
You may be asking, how are young adults getting this opioid drug? With its high potency and high risk of death, how are they justifying fentanyl use at all?
In truth, many fentanyl users do not know they are using fentanyl at all. In recent years, traffickers have flooded the drug market with counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl. Passed off on the streets under other names and as other fake prescription drugs, fentanyl is unknowingly purchased by new users who are unaware of its dangers. They do not know what they are taking and often take too much.
Fentanyl-laced drugs, which often mimic prescription painkillers like Percocet or sedatives like Xanax, have thus become the main drivers of thousands of fentanyl overdose deaths and non-fatal overdoses around the country. The fake pills are much cheaper than the “real” versions, making them much more appealing to the needing user.
We need to face the facts. We need to recognize that any drug obtained on the street can be lethal. We need to understand that pharmaceuticals are not always safe. In fact, when used non-medically or obtained illegally, they can carry as many (if not more) risks than any illicit drug.
Perhaps this is the most frightening part of all. There are no guarantees on the street. There is no “ingredients” label on street drugs, no recommended dosage, no liability. There is no awareness, and the rise of fentanyl-containing drugs, fentanyl addiction, and fentanyl overdoses have showed us just this. Many are unaware of the power of this drug. It is up to us – parents, educators, physicians, counselors – to step in and get them the help they deserve before it is too late.
Not only is fentanyl highly dangerous, it is also highly addictive. If you or your loved one is suffering from a fentanyl addiction, do not hesitate to contact us at 877-581-1793. Turnbridge is the preeminent young adult drug rehab center for fentanyl abuse, and we are always here to help.