The problematic use of pain medications has increased drastically over the last decade. Pain medication can be highly addictive, as it blocks both physical and emotional pain receptors, thus the experience of pain is minimized. Pain medications are part of a family of addictive substances called “opioids.” While opioids have their medical applications, the more potent substances are wreaking havoc on communities nationwide. One of the more identifiable medications is fentanyl. However, many are unaware of what it is and why it’s so deadly. What does fentanyl actually look like and should everyone be concerned?
History of Opioid & Opioid Abuse
Historically, opioids have been prescribed by doctors for pain management. Unfortunately, the prescribing of opioids for pain increased drastically without the knowledge of its addictive impact on a person. The ease of access to opioids has led to a current crisis in the United States known as the Opioid Epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of opioids has increased 142% from 2016 to 2018 and may account for more than 760,000 deaths from overdose.
The most deadly drug among the opioid family is actually not hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, or even codeine. Addiction treatment specialists and physicians are showing that fentanyl is far outpacing its predecessors for a myriad of reasons including the fact that it’s extremely potent– about 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a synthetic painkiller, it has a quick onset of action and even one dose can be fatal.
What Makes Fentanyl So Deadly?
Originally, the intended application for fentanyl was in the outpatient setting for control of cancer pain for individuals already opioid-tolerant. However, as more individuals discovered its potency, fentanyl’s appeal increased throughout American communities.
One reason that fentanyl is so deadly is that many people are simply unaware of the ongoing threat it carries. Unsuspecting victims are taking adulterated drugs that are laced with fentanyl and, thus, the chances of accidental overdose increase ten-fold. In 2017, in fact, over 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3% in 2010, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
We may have heard of the extensive damage fentanyl has caused for thousands of families nationwide, but what does fentanyl look like? Before we describe this all-too-common prescription medication and controlled substance, let’s examine why it’s still on the market considering its dangerous history.
Why Is Fentanyl Prescribed?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is prescribed for pain management. As a controlled substance, there are many stipulations and regulations in place to help protect individuals from succumbing to the deadly effects of fentanyl abuse. Still, the demand for this potent man-made opioid continues to skyrocket. As a result, the illegal drug trade is importing it from various regions around the world.
How Does It Work & What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
Fentanyl attaches to pain receptors in the brain allowing the individual to feel more comfortable while they are recovering. Blocking these receptors can minimize the experience of pain. When pain receptors are blocked within the brain, emotional pain may also be soothed leading to a feeling of less anxiety, worry, and depression. Researchers feel this may be a reason why fentanyl is so addictive. Although fentanyl is dangerous and highly addictive it can be used safely with proper moderation and monitoring from doctors. It can treat several painful diseases and disorders. Common reasons fentanyl is prescribed include:
- Recovery from Surgery
- Cancer treatment
- Chronic Pain
Fentanyl has been highly effective in helping someone who is undergoing cancer treatments. It can help manage the severe pain that may coincide with cancer recovery and treatment. Although the prolonged use of fentanyl can be extremely dangerous may cause severe brain damage or even death. Fentanyl is extremely potent and may lead to a high likelihood of abuse or dependence.
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
Fentanyl is not as well-known as many other opioids; however, it has become increasingly more problematic in several communities throughout the United States. More and more people have found Fentanyl to help with pain management for both legal and illegal use. Fentanyl can take many different forms. What does Fentanyl look like? Most common forms and ways to ingest fentanyl include:
Fentanyl is synthetic and can be crafted onto many different foods or objects. It is ingested into the bloodstream quickly and can cause a strong effect quickly. The method of ingesting fentanyl may differ, but the effects and dangers of fentanyl remain no matter the form it takes.
What Are Side-Effects of Opioid Use?
Fentanyl and other pain medications can have severe long-term and short-term consequences. An addiction to opioids can be challenging as their use may go unnoticed by family, friends, and coworkers. Common signs of Fentanyl use or other opioids include:
- Muscle Stiffness
- Slurred Speech
- Weight Loss
- Breathing Problems
These are all signs someone may be abusing fentanyl or other opiates. Knowing the signs of opioid use can help to save a life of friends and family. Opioid addiction is serious and if you or a family member feel they may struggle with opioid addiction you are encouraged to contact AspenRidge to discuss treatment options.
What Programs does AspenRidge Offer for Opioids?
Understanding opioid addiction is important and proper assessment is a critical tool for appropriate treatment methods. AspenRidge understands the challenges that are facing Colorado due to the opioid crisis. Because of this, AspenRidge has developed a program that is designed for those struggling with pain medication or opioid use. AspenRidge offers the Colorado Opiate Addiction Treatment Program. During this program, patients will undergo several different therapies performed by highly-trained and caring professionals at AspenRidge. Some therapies used include addiction therapy, mental health therapy, trauma-focused therapy, and neurofeedback or biofeedback therapy.
AspenRidge offers a phased approach to treatment and has a highly reputable and effective program that is a catered to the individual. If you or a loved one are ready to begin their journey towards recovery from opioids or other drugs please contact AspenRidge Recovery directly 24/7 at 855-281-5588.
How can AspenRidge Help?
AspenRidge can help address both short-term and long-term addiction, particularly those that concern highly addictive substances like heroin or fentanyl. AspenRidge offers highly effective programs that can handle all levels of alcohol use disorders. We tailor our approaches to match client needs and work to create a suitable plan for the individual.
Our experienced addiction treatment specialists and staff will help to verify insurance options and to clarify treatment procedures available at AspenRidge Recovery Centers.