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Alongside other opioids, fentanyl has become notorious for its role in the opioid crisis in America. Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose, often as a result of using other drugs they didn’t know were laced with fentanyl. This drug also packs a lot of power into a minuscule amount of substance, making it a target for those looking for a cheap and intense high. 

Learn why fentanyl is so dangerous and how treatment for opioid addiction can help. 

What Are the Origins of Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a highly addictive substance that falls into a class of manufactured drugs called synthetic opioids. All opioids target the same areas of the brain and work to relieve any pain the person is feeling. Fentanyl was originally created as a prescription drug used in hospitals to treat patients with extreme pain, such as those with cancer. 

However, fentanyl has made its way from the security of the pharmacy to the free range of the streets. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), legally obtained “Fentanyl pharmaceutical products are diverted via theft, fraudulent prescriptions, and illicit distribution by patients, physicians, and pharmacists.” It is also produced in illegal laboratories overseas and then smuggled into the United States.

People seek fentanyl because of the strong high it produces, as well as feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and sedation. This appeal makes the drug even more dangerous. 

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Natural and man-made opioids are both very addictive and can cause death by overdose. However, there are three key reasons why fentanyl tops the list of extremely dangerous drugs. 

Potent in Tiny Amounts 

As a pain reliever, fentanyl is nearly 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Two milligrams of the drug can be deadly, depending on your height and weight, past usage, and drug tolerance. 

To give you an idea of just how little two milligrams are, think about the last time you were at a restaurant or coffee shop. There are usually small packets of sugar on the table or self-serve area. One sugar packet is about 1,000 milligrams. 

Routes of Exposure

Fentanyl can make its way into the body through the skin, inhalation, and orally. Combined with its high potency in small doses, coming into contact with this drug, even accidentally, can be lethal. You may not even realize you are being exposed. As such, First Responders have a strict protocol to prevent exposure when helping patients or managing a crime scene. 

Other Drugs Are Being Laced

Since fentanyl is inexpensive to make, drug dealers are using it to stretch their supply of other street drugs to increase profits. Some drugs that have been found to be laced include:  

  • Heroin 
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Counterfeit prescription drugs

Mixing these drugs can increase the chance of a life-threatening interaction. The person doesn’t know they are taking fentanyl and may take more of the drug, thinking they can handle the dosage. This is one factor contributing to the increasing number of overdoses. 

What the DEA Has Found in Drug Seizes 

The DEA is in charge of finding, seizing, and analyzing illegal drugs. They have discovered counterfeit pills that contain between .02 to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl in each tablet. That is more than two times the amount that can cause death by overdose.  

They also found that 42% of pills had, at a minimum, 2 mg of fentanyl. Without proper testing and equipment, it is unlikely a person will know whether or not their street drugs contain fentanyl or a deadly dose. 

What Does Opioid Addiction Treatment Look Like?

Treatment for an opioid addiction usually starts with detoxification. Clients are monitored by a medical team to facilitate a more comfortable and safe withdrawal. This step is important because many people struggle to come off of opioids due to withdrawal symptoms. 

Some facilities also offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is a specialized treatment for opioid use disorder and alcohol addiction. MAT uses medications and behavioral therapies that offer a whole-person approach to treating substance use disorders. Research shows that it sustains recovery by preventing relapse and overdose. 

It’s Time to Get Help

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids, whether natural like heroin or synthetic like fentanyl, it is critical to get help as soon as possible. Overdose deaths are on the rise and synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are to blame for many of the deaths recorded in the United States. Treatment can help you start a new chapter free from addiction and the health risks that come with it. 

Starting off as a valuable prescription medication, fentanyl has grown into a problem drug. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has cost the lives of many people. Even for those that are ready to get clean, it can be difficult to do so on their own. Opioids are very addictive, and professional treatment is usually needed to assist individuals in their recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers is an addiction treatment facility in Oceanside, CA. We specialize in intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization. We also offer medication-assisted treatment. MAT has helped many clients get and stay clean and sober. Clients also have the option of being assigned a case manager who will help them navigate the world of healthcare and find resources like housing and a job. We highly encourage our clients to participate in aftercare services such as our alumni program for continued support. For more information, call (760) 492-6509