Fighting Fentanyl: Understanding the Fentanyl Crisis

Alcohol and drug use have many inherent health risks and dangers. Understanding these dangers is imperative not only for those who use drugs and their loved ones but also for everyone. Substance use impacts the lives of people everywhere. Currently, our nation is facing an opioid epidemic and associated fentanyl crisis. This epidemic is triggering an influx of overdoses and overdose deaths. Those who use opioid drugs are experiencing life-threatening risks of drug use. As a nation, we must work together in fighting fentanyl to reduce the risks of general drug use as well as overdose-related harm.

At 12 South Recovery, our staff is comprised of expert clinicians and therapists who are dedicated to helping clients reshape their lives. More specifically, we are passionate about fighting fentanyl as well as the opioid epidemic. We are devoted to ensuring that individuals are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to create worthwhile lives and long-term sobriety. Before we can work together with our clients to effectively fight fentanyl, however, it is necessary to understand what opioids are. In particular, it’s essential to understand fentanyl and its role in the opioid epidemic.

What Are Opioid Drugs?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain.” Doctors may prescribe opioids to patients for pain management in various situations. These situations can include the period immediately after surgery or the treatment of chronic health conditions like cancer.

Still, as the CDC explains, “In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain… despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.” Moreover, opioid drugs have immense addictive potential and can cause life-threatening health risks if used improperly.

Prescription opioids can be obtained both naturally through the opium poppy plant. They can also be obtained synthetically, formed from chemicals in a laboratory. Some examples of legal prescription opioids include:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Morphine

Fentanyl: A Synthetic and Silent Killer

While those drugs listed above are legal prescription opioids, illegal opioid drugs also exist. The most common of these are heroin and fentanyl. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine. Fentanyl, on the other hand, is a synthetic opioid “that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine,” according to the CDC. As pharmaceutical fentanyl can be prescribed by doctors in situations of severe pain, it is necessary to highlight illegal fentanyl as the silent killer. Illegal fentanyl is the substance most responsible for the increase in overdose deaths.

According to the CDC, illegally made fentanyl can be obtained through the drug market in a variety of different forms. It is often added to street drugs like cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and other drugs due to its extreme potency. In turn, it “makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.” As the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) explains, “Two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage.” Thus, unsuspected buyers may be completely unaware that their drugs are contaminated with fentanyl, placing their lives at great risk from the use of any street drug.

Fighting Fentanyl and the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic refers to the unavoidable public health issue that has stemmed from the rapid increase in the use of both prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs. According to the CDC, “From 1999–2020, more than 564,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids.” Furthermore, that number continues to grow each day.

Fighting fentanyl is no easy task. Deciding to engage in this fight requires individuals to dismantle the stereotypes and stigmas of addiction. What’s more, they must be committed to avoiding the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Additionally, individuals must recognize the warning signs of substance use disorder (SUD) and especially opioid use disorder (OUD) when they surface.

Warning Signs of Opioid Use Disorder

The main indication of OUD is that an individual continues to use opioids despite the harm it is causing in their life. If an individual has SUD or OUD, they experience particularly high risks of fentanyl exposure as well as the potential for overdose death. Becoming familiar with the following warning signs can encourage individuals to seek professional treatment and support promptly.

Additional warning signs of OUD include:

  • Attempting to moderate or stop drug use with no success
  • Using opioids or other drugs to self-medicate
  • Taking more opioids to manage withdrawal effects
  • Noticing that drug use is interfering with relationships
  • Developing a tolerance for a drug

Also, for many, fighting fentanyl involves becoming certified to administer FDA-approved naloxone, also known as Narcan. This medicine rapidly reverses an opioid overdose and has no effect on an individual who does not have opioids in their system. Thus, merely carrying naloxone may, one day, save the life of a person who uses drugs.

Fighting Fentanyl: Treatment Options at 12 South Recovery

For those struggling with OUD, fentanyl misuse, or other types of addictions, it is vital to understand that treatment is available and recovery is possible. At 12 South Recovery, we understand the increased risks of fentanyl exposure and other overdose-related harm that people with addictions may experience. Moreover, we offer several outpatient treatment options for all types of addiction such as opioids, prescription drugs, heroin, oxycontin, and more.

Our client-centered philosophy enables clients to discover the root causes of their addiction. Finding this root cause helps clients effectively overcome addiction and prevent relapse. Effectively fighting fentanyl is a group affair that requires both peer and professional support. At 12 South, we can equip individuals with the tools and guidance that they need to instill lasting sobriety in their lives. Everyone deserves to be free from the risks of overdose-related harm.

The opioid epidemic has been on the rise since 1999 and continues to wreak havoc on the lives of individuals everywhere. Fentanyl is an illegal, synthetically made opioid. It also happens to be the culprit of the majority of overdose deaths. Fighting fentanyl requires you to become familiar with the warning signs of opioid use and substance use disorder(SUD). It also means you must challenge the recurrent use, misuse, or abuse of any drug. At 12 South Recovery, we offer several outpatient treatment options to target the underlying causes of opioid misuse. We help you live a worthwhile life, free from fentanyl exposure and other overdose-related health risks. For more information and support, call us today at (888) 830-8374.

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