The dangers of heroin and other synthetic opioid painkillers are well known. For over a decade, America has been waging war against the opioid epidemic, until COVID-19 the worst public health crisis in the country. However, over the last several years, America’s dangerous relationship with opioids has taken an even more deadly turn with the rise in use and misuse of the powerful drug fentanyl. As the numbers of non-fatal and fatal drug overdoses increase annually, spiking with the most drug-related overdoses in a 12-month period during the coronavirus pandemic ending in May 2020 (the latest available statistics), the main culprit taking the lives of thousands of Americans is no longer heroin or prescription pills like OxyContin, but rather fentanyl.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, like hydrocodone or oxycodone, that is similar to morphine. However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, meaning it is much more deadly and in much smaller doses. Fentanyl is a prescription drug, but like other prescription drugs, it is also made, acquired, sold, and used illegally. The rates of illegal fentanyl use has been rising for many years. The supply comes from legally manufactured drugs, but also black market illegal manufactured substances smuggled into the United States from places like China and Mexico, amongst others.

Like morphine and other legal synthetic opioids, when used legally and appropriately prescribed, fentanyl is a medicine that is used to treat individuals with severe pain, often after surgery, or to treat patients with chronic pain where other synthetic opioids like morphine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone aren’t working or the patient has built up a physical tolerance. Just like heroin or other synthetic opioids, tolerance for fentanyl increases over time and with continued use, meaning patients will need more of the drug to receive the desires effect, as well as become physically dependent. Just a small amount of fentanyl is powerful enough to cause a user to overdose.

With the increase in supply and demand of fentanyl in the United States, what used to be a cheap drug used to increase the potency of heroin, has turned into groups of individuals seeking out fentanyl specifically to use, misuse, and/or abuse. Individuals who used to seek out heroin or prescription painkillers on the streets are now specifically seeking out fentanyl. Additionally, fentanyl is now being used to increase the high associated with other drugs, including cocaine. Finally, the latest street drug trend is using fentanyl to press into prescription drug forms of all types that are sold on the streets. Individuals think they are buying actual black-market opioids like Percocets or OxyContin, but really are buying fentanyl pressed into pill form. Fentanyl is even sold in similar ways but pressed to look like benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium. So, someone using pills that they bought off the streets that they think are Xanax are actually ingesting fentanyl pressed into pill form to resemble a Xanax. Because of this, the rates of fatal and non-fatal overdoses are rising, often by people that are unaware they are using the powerful and dangerous drug fentanyl. People are using cocaine or faked Xanax pills, ingesting fentanyl, and overdosing.

How do People Use Fentanyl?

Fentanyl can be used or ingested in numerous ways, including taken in pill form, injecting, oral or nasal spray, an adhesive patch, a lollipop, or in lozenge form. Being 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, a user of fentanyl can quickly become physically addicted and dependent on the drug, easily becoming a daily user or a user of the substance every few hours. Like other opioids, fentanyl will create in users a slowed pulse, a drop in body temperature, drowsiness, lethargy, often mental confusion or loss of consciousness, and ultimately, sometimes even with a small amount of substance used, overdose or death.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl may be the most dangerous synthetic opioids being used illegally in America, and it is certainly the main reason that overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, are continuing to rise throughout the country. And just like other opioids, coming off fentanyl can be difficult and painful, both physically and emotionally. Here at Innovo Detox, we offer 24/7 medical care, as well as full-time clinical support, to aid individuals from coming off powerful opioids like fentanyl. FDA-approved medications help with fentanyl addiction withdrawals, and our calming environment helps individuals find stability both physically and emotionally, allowing them to be physically freed from substances such as fentanyl, and then mentally and emotionally stabile so that they may begin their journey of recovery from Fentanyl addiction.

If you or someone you know needs help for fentanyl addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at info@innovodetox.com. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.