The Rising Threat of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid that acts similar to Heroin on the brain. It is about 50-100 times more powerful than morphine in its potency and effects and was initially synthesized pharmaceutically to treat severe pain. The illegal import and synthesis of Fentanyl in the U.S. have led to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths related to the drug. The number increased dramatically in the past ten years, with 2,600 related deaths in 2011 to over 30,000 deaths in 2018. The next year, there was a 16 percent increase.

Fentanyl’s effects are short-lived and the lethal dosage is very small, around 2 milligrams, making it very easy to misjudge the intake and overdose on the drug. Fentanyl, aside from its potency, is cheap; making it a popular drug for dealers to add into batches of Heroin and Methamphetamine in order to increase profits.

The Centers for Disease Control listed opioids, like fentanyl, as the primary catalyst for the sharp rise in overdose deaths since 2020. According to the DEA, this could be because illegal Fentanyl is often mistaken for heroin by users, who end up mistakenly taking a lethal dose. Illegally produced heroin is sold as a powder or as counterfeit pills. Add to this the social stigma that exists around drug users, it also decreases the likelihood of getting access to treatment at a drug rehab Austin.

Fentanyl Effect on the body

Fentanyl affects the reward pathways of our brain. These are the most primitive and are associated with our drive for our base desires for pleasure, like food, water, sex. The effect that opiates, like Fentanyl, produces is exponentially greater than is natural. This is why it is so difficult to resist addictions despite the negative drawbacks they have on our lives, because it is harder for us to resist the more engrained, primitive part of our brain with the newer, logical areas. This is why medical assistance during detox, such as at a drug detox Austin, can prove extremely beneficial to patients affected by a Substance Abuse Disorder.

Fentanyl in the short-term produces an intense euphoria in its users that lasts a shorter period of time compared to other opiates. Slowed breathing and decreased blood pressure are also symptoms. Users under the influence may experience, among other symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Pupillary Constriction

What is the Cause for the Rise?

In 2012, Oxycontin was reformulated and rebranded as Oxideo, to discourage illegal sales and tampering. This was at a time when it was the most illegally used prescription opioid available. While this would have signaled an increase in Heroin use to offset the lack of Fentanyl on the black market, it had the unseen effect of creating a market for illegally sourced Fentanyl to make a rise, leading to the sudden rise in Fentanyl use and overdoses.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a Substance Abuse Disorder, particularly Heroin, you are at an increased risk of being accidentally dosed with Fentanyl. Seeking help, either from a family member or at a professional clinic, like drug detox austin tx, could be one of the most beneficial steps you could take towards sobriety.

References

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1751272/
  • https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/fentanyl
  • https://www.dea.gov/resources/facts-about-fentanyl
  • https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/fentanyl.html
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