Overdose deaths have increased significantly through the years, with 106,000 more deaths from 2019 to 2021 alone. The main driver of these deaths is the opioid crisis, which has reached unprecedented levels, claiming lives and tearing apart families and communities.
One of the most alarming contributors to this crisis is fentanyl, an immensely potent synthetic opioid. It’s 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. The potency of the drug is one of the main reasons for its popularity.
Let’s learn more about fentanyl, why people seek it out and the devastating consequences of its use.
Fentanyl is exceptionally potent, and the stronger a drug is, the more addictive it is, too. As mentioned above, fentanyl is far stronger than other opioids like morphine and heroin.
Just a small amount can induce intense euphoria, making it attractive to those who are seeking a powerful high.
It only takes about 2 milligrams, or about 10 to 15 grains of table salt, for fentanyl to be lethal. A lethal dose of heroin, on the other hand, is 100 milligrams or more. Once the drug gets into the body, it quickly binds to opioid receptors in the brain and interrupts the signaling of pain between the central nervous system and the body.
Bottom line: Fentanyl is incredibly potent, and because of this, it creates an intense high that is hard to get with other drugs.
For drug traffickers, fentanyl presents an opportunity for higher profits. Due to its potency, a small amount can be diluted and mixed with other substances, allowing traffickers to create a larger volume of the product. This economic factor has contributed to the rapid increase of fentanyl in illicit drug markets.
Many different drugs have been known to be laced with fentanyl, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and counterfeit pills. However, there is incredible danger with this. Users don’t always know that they’re ingesting fentanyl, leading to accidental poisoning. And, since powdered fentanyl looks like many other drugs, it’s incredibly difficult to tell if it has been added to something.
Ease of Production
Fentanyl and its analogs can be chemically synthesized, often in clandestine laboratories. The relative ease of production, combined with the availability of precursor chemicals, contributes to fentanyl’s widespread presence on the streets.
Mexico and China are the primary sources for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the U.S. Nearly all precursor chemicals needed to make fentanyl come from China as well. Illegal chemists can order what they need from the dark web, have it delivered within a day and make fentanyl in their labs.
Fentanyl is relatively inexpensive to produce compared to natural opioids like heroin. Its affordability makes it an attractive option for both drug dealers and users, especially when economic factors come into play. Sadly, illicit drug manufacturers know that fentanyl has a much greater profit margin than other drugs. The occasional loss of users doesn’t hurt their bottom line, as they know they can create another addict.
The internet has facilitated the sale and distribution of fentanyl. Illicit drug sellers operate on the dark web, where buyers can easily purchase various drugs, including fentanyl and its analogs, with relative anonymity. This online availability has expanded its reach beyond geographical boundaries. And to make matters worse, the drug can be sent through the regular postal system with guaranteed delivery.
Treating Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl is a hard drug to quit, but it can be done successfully. Fentanyl addiction is treated like other opioid use disorders (OUDs), using a combination of medication and behavioral therapies. Medications for OUDs are safe, effective and approved by the FDA. They work by reducing cravings, easing withdrawal symptoms and blocking the pleasurable effects of opioids.
Behavioral therapies help with adjusting attitudes and behaviors, developing healthy coping mechanisms and working through underlying triggers for substance use. Common therapies used to treat fentanyl addiction include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Contingency management
- Motivational interviewing
- Dialectical behavior therapy
Pura Vida Recovery Treats Fentanyl Addiction
The popularity of fentanyl is a complex issue rooted in its potency, profitability, ease of production and online availability. Its emergence in the illicit drug market has exacerbated the opioid crisis, leading to countless tragic consequences. To address this alarming trend, it is essential for society to focus on education, prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts.
If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl use, contact Pura Vida Recovery today. We treat opioid use disorders using a combination of medication, therapy, life skills and positive peer influences. Break free of opioids and start your path to recovery today.