Have you ever popped an Advil and then, after not receiving the desired effects, taken another? Maybe even two?
This happens with patients who have been prescribed opioids all of the time. Even though fentanyl is a powerful painkiller, one pill doesn’t always do the job, so a person takes it upon themselves to double or triple their dosage in a desperate attempt to manage their pain.
Fentanyl is too potent of a drug to consume frequently in high doses and not experience negative consequences. Unfortunately, one of the most common repercussions of consistent fentanyl consumption is the development of a substance use disorder or addiction.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at fentanyl abuse; what fentanyl is medically used for, the effects, and why so many people are struggling with fentanyl abuse.
What is fentanyl used for?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid primarily used to manage chronic and acute pain, such as that resulting from surgery or cancer treatments. Additionally, fentanyl can also sometimes be used as a supplemental element in specific types of treatment plans, though this is fairly rare.
Due to the high risk of developing a dependence on the drug, pharmaceutically made fentanyl can only be prescribed by a licensed medical professional.
In recent decades, it’s become an alarmingly popular recreational drug, both in its medical and illegal forms.
Why do people abuse fentanyl?
The main reason people abuse fentanyl is due to its fast-acting and highly potent effects. This drug is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
Because of how quickly a substance use disorder or addiction can develop with regular fentanyl use, the negative effects don’t always “kick in” in an obvious way before the addiction is active.
The negative effects of consistent fentanyl use include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sedation and confusion
- Respiratory depression and failure
- The development of dependence or addiction
- Withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous
- An increased tolerance that leads to higher consumption or stronger doses
- Low blood pressure and slowed heart rate
- Overdose, cardiac arrest and death
While death may seem like an extreme circumstance (and it is), it’s more common than you might think; over 150 people die every day from opioids like fentanyl according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
How addictive is fentanyl?
Fentanyl has become a significant concern even when used in the proper, medically supervised environments, due to how highly addictive it is.
Because the patients who are typically prescribed fentanyl are suffering from some form of severe chronic pain, their chance of developing an emotional and mental dependence on the drug (in addition to a physical addiction) is also high.
Illicitly produced fentanyl is often mixed with other dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine and is now a factor in more than half of all overdose deaths in the United States.
It is considered to be the most toxic recreational drug on the market, with less than 0.007 percent of an ounce of fentanyl resulting in certain death according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.
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Here at Rehab After Work, we recognize that not everyone can or wants to enroll in a full-time, multiple-month rehabilitation program when they’re ready to embark on their recovery journey.
That’s why we offer a variety of drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment services that are flexible and convenient, so you don’t have to put the rest of your life on hold as you recover.
In addition to providing outpatient rehabilitation, we also offer intensive outpatient therapy and partial hospitalization. We want you to be able to continue to draw upon the love and support of your family and friends throughout your recovery journey.
If you aren’t sure what kind of program is best suited for your needs, send us a message to speak with one of our qualified intake professionals.