The Opioid Crisis: Fentanyl
Across the United States, the growing opioid crisis continues to make headlines. Fentanyl is one of the drugs that is putting Americans in danger. Although this drug is extremely potent and highly addictive, recovery from addiction is possible with the right support.
What is Fentanyl?
First and foremost, fentanyl is a painkiller. It is a synthetic opioid prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain. One of its main applications is the management of advanced-stage cancer pain. Cancer sufferers use fentanyl patches where the painkiller is absorbed through the skin or lozenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl can be 50 or even 100 times stronger than morphine. The drug’s effect has been described as similar to heroin. Whilst medical fentanyl can be diverted from legal uses for misuse and abuse, the majority of overdoses and deaths across the United States are connected to illegally manufactured versions of the drug.
When drugs like fentanyl are sold through illegal markets, the potential for abuse and overdosing becomes greater. Fentanyl users are also in danger of buying drugs that have been mixed with other substances, such as cocaine and heroin. Drug dealers would do this to increase the euphoric effects of fentanyl, but without the user’s knowledge, it can make this drug even more dangerous.
What is the Opioid Crisis?
Across the U.S., the number of overdoses and deaths caused by synthetic opioids has been growing at an alarming rate. In 2020 alone, more than 56,000 deaths were linked to synthetic opioids. Perhaps more alarmingly, death rates rose by more than 56% between 2019 and 2020. By 2021, the number of deaths had grown to more than 70,000.
This significant increase has been linked to the coronavirus pandemic, but the opioid crisis started before 2020. Data shows that the number of deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses increased 18 times between 2013 and 2020.
Fentanyl is not the only synthetic opioid available on the illegal drug market. However, information from law enforcement shows that it is the driver behind the increase in overdoses and deaths. Data also confirms that fentanyl-involved overdose deaths are more often linked to illegally manufactured drugs than to prescribed, pharmaceutical fentanyl.
The fentanyl crisis is exacerbated further by so-called fentanyl analogs. Those are versions of fentanyl that can be stronger or weaker than the original drug. To date, Carfentanil has been the most potent fentanyl analog detected here in America. Experts estimate that it is 10,000 times stronger than morphine.
How has it Affected People?
Fentanyl has become a threat to the health, safety, and national security of Americans, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA acknowledged the severity of the crisis earlier in 2022 by launching its first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day in May.
The administration states that drug dealers are not only using combinations with other drugs to increase addiction and turn users into addicts and repeat buyers. In addition, criminals are targeting younger people with the help of brightly-colored fentanyl pills.
Authorities have seized so-called “rainbow fentanyl” in more than 50% of American states. Experts believe that the bright colors make the drug look like candy, potentially making it more attractive to children and teenagers.
Fentanyl use is devastating to users and their families. In fact, drug overdoses have become the number one killer of American adults between the age of 18 and 45.
How Has the Crisis Evolved?
America’s opioid epidemic can be traced back to the late 1990s. At that time, pharmaceutical companies told doctors and healthcare providers that patients would not grow addicted to these medications.
Over the following years, patients and their doctors discovered that this was untrue. At the same time, increasing prescriptions became the gateway for misuse. By 2017, the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency. Still, the number of deaths continues to grow.
Faith Based Recovery
Dealing with addiction and substance abuse is extremely difficult for addicts as well as their families and friends. Recovery can be hard work, but with the right support, people can go on to recover their health and lead a full life. Choosing a faith-based recovery program can help you break free from addiction.