The dangers of opioid addiction have certainly gained more exposure recently with the deaths of celebrities like Prince, who was reported to be struggling with an addiction to opioid painkillers prior to his untimely death in April. It’s an unfortunate reality that opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the United States, and much of it is being fueled by prescription painkillers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 80 percent of prescription painkillers are prescribed by 20 percent of prescribers, and sales for prescription painkillers have increased more than 400 percent since 1999. Not surprisingly, the number of overdose from these medications has also increased – by more than 300 percent. In fact, more individuals are dying from prescription pain medications than from heroin and cocaine combined.
An Illicit Version Of A Prescription Painkiller
While all opioid painkillers are addictive and can lead to overdose, addiction specialists are particularly worried about one medication that is flooding into cities and towns across the U.S. It’s fentanyl, which is the most potent painkiller on the market. Prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, the drug was developed to ease the extreme pain of cancer patients. Now, an illicit version of this drug is being sold on the street in the form of pills and powder, causing a growing number of individuals to become addicted and even overdose. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the CDC both believe that illegal fentanyl is currently a national health crisis.
Clusters of fentanyl-related overdoses are showing up in increasing numbers which has led to the CDC issuing a health advisory to inform health providers and first responders about overdoses. Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire have all seen tremendous jumps in related deaths. In these states and a growing number of others, fentanyl deaths are far surpassing overdoses caused by heroin.
Just How Dangerous Is Fentanyl?
Many are surprised by the strength of this drug. When law enforcement confiscates it, they have to wear hazmat suits for protection. It can be absorbed by the skin and the eyes, and only a few small grains of the drug can kill an individual. First appearing on the streets in 2007, the Drug Enforcement Agency traced the drug to a lab in Mexico. Seven years, later the number of overdoses spiked, and many believe that it is now being produced in China and trafficked through Mexican cartels into the U.S.
Effects Of Fentanyl Abuse
Along with the risk of overdose, this drug also has many long-term damaging effects including:
• Immune suppression
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Social withdrawal
• Delusions or hallucinations
• Personality changes
Help For Fentanyl Withdrawal
Withdrawal from this drug requires professional treatment because of the intense symptoms that happen during the detoxification process. If you or a loved one is abusing fentanyl or any other drugs, do not wait another day to get help. It could be a matter of life or death. Call Pathways Recovery immediately for help.