Of all the prescription painkillers people commonly abuse, none are as powerful – or as deadly – as fentanyl. A synthetic opiate pain reliever, fentanyl is typically prescribed for pain control to patients with severe pain or injury or to patients who have undergone a surgery. Frequently administered in a hospital setting, illicit fentanyl produced in clandestine laboratories is increasingly cutting a deadly swath through drug users. Owing to its pain relieving and relaxing effect, fentanyl is often sought out illegally and mixed with heroin and cocaine to heighten its effects.
Similar to any other opioid drug, fentanyl works by binding to body’s opioid receptors and producing a state of relaxation and euphoria. Hard to believe, in 2015, there were 6.5 million fentanyl prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. and 4.55 million prescriptions were dispensed during the first nine months of 2016. Abused for its intense euphoric effects, fentanyl-related overdose deaths jumped from 550 in 2013 to 2000 in 2014.
Intentional or otherwise, there may be no more dangerous substance habit than fentanyl drug abuse. Sovereign Health knows the desperate circumstances that often drive drug habits, and our Chandler, Arizona, facility for our women patients offers a safe, comfortable place to move beyond fentanyl addiction and into a happier life.
Fentanyl drug abuse
Fentanyl is prescribed via injection, patch or in lozenge form. Outside of fentanyl patch abuse, illicit fentanyl is sold as powder – often called “china white” – or on blotter paper. Often, illicit fentanyl is sold as or added to heroin or pain pills. The danger of fentanyl lies is its strength – the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine as an analgesic. Fentanyl is usually prescribed for patients who are dealing with severe pain, as well as chronic pain patients who do not respond to other opioid medications.
Most people who abuse fentanyl often move onto it after a long period of abusing other opioids, attracted by its strength. More dangerously, fentanyl is sometimes mixed with other drugs including heroin and cocaine to increase their strength and effects along with their dangers. A Schedule II prescription drug, fentanyl can be toxic in very small amounts. When abused, users often ingest an entire dose of fentanyl at once, creating a tremendous risk of overdose.