Statistics About Fentanyl Use

Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, primarily due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

More than 70% of worldwide deaths caused by drug use are related to opioids like fentanyl.

Less than 10% of people who need treatment for opioid dependency are receiving it.

5 Fast Facts about Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine, but 50-100 times more potent.

Fentanyl is capable of causing respiratory arrest at smaller doses than heroin.

The high potency of fentanyl increases the risk of overdose.

The medication naloxone can prevent death from an opioid overdose if administered in time.

Fentanyl is addictive because of its potency, and people who are addicted to fentanyl can experience withdrawal within hours after taking the drug.

About Fentanyl Addiction

Opioid abuse is a public health crisis in the United States. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have become a big contributor to this problem. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) refers to fentanyl as the “primary driver” of the opioid crisis.

Fentanyl is a narcotic pain reliever with a high risk of abuse and addiction. It’s legal purpose is for use in hospitals after surgery or for treating cancer pain – however, most fentanyl-related harm and death is caused by illegally made fentanyl. This type of fentanyl is made in labs and sold illegally. Drug dealers also commonly mix fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, making fentanyl use even more dangerous. Some people who take fentanyl don’t even know that they have taken it – as it can be added to other drugs without the user knowing this.

Addiction is one of the most common side effects of fentanyl abuse. When someone uses fentanyl regularly, they will build a tolerance to it, and therefore they will need more of the drug to achieve a high.

Common effects of fentanyl abuse

  • Confusion
  • Chest Pain
  • Labored breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Physical weakness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Less Common effects of fentanyl abuse

  • Clumsiness
  • Seizures
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Trembling
  • Headache
  • Muscle jerking

Fentanyl Withdrawal

  • Restlessness
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Runny nose
  • Backache
  • Joint pain

Signs of Addiction

  • Mood changes
  • Poor balance
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Buying fentanyl illegally
  • Using to avoid withdrawal
  • Fear of not having access to the drug

Fentanyl Overdose

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed/stopped breathing

Fentanyl Overdose Treatment

If you suspect someone has overdosed, the first thing you should do is call 911. The treatment for a fentanyl overdose is a medicine called naloxone – a safe and effective remedy that can rapidly reverse opioid overdose. Naloxone is given by paramedics, emergency room doctors and other designated first responders.

People in the general population may be able to get naloxone at the pharmacy with a prescription, or even without one in certain states. The individual experiencing overdose may require more than one dose of naloxone, and they will still need medical attention after receiving the lifesaving medication.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is addicted to fentanyl, there is hope for recovery. Overcoming opioid dependency is not a quick process, as treatment for fentanyl addiction typically lasts about a year. Medication along with behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat fentanyl addiction. It’s important to note that individuals should not stop using narcotics suddenly, as this can cause severe and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Detox from fentanyl should only be done with medical supervision to ease the symptoms and prevent relapse. The FDA has approved a non- opioid drug called lofexidine to treat withdrawal symptoms. Detox should be the first step as part of a larger, long-term plan for recovery.

There are both inpatient and outpatient options for fentanyl addiction treatment.

  • Outpatient treatment is a good option for people who have mild to moderate symptoms of addiction and do not need intensive care. With outpatient treatment, you will live at home and go to your scheduled appointments.
  • Inpatient treatment provides patients with a more intensive approach that involves withdrawal management, medication and counseling. With inpatient treatment, you will live onsite at a rehab facility for a short period of time.

Medications commonly used to treat fentanyl addiction include:

  • Buprenorphine and methadone – opioid replacements designed to reduce drug cravings,
    and can also be used to treat withdrawal symptoms.

Two of the common behavioral therapies used to treat fentanyl addiction are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – teaches patients in recovery to find connections between their thoughts, feelings and actions and increase awareness of how these factors impact
    recovery.
  • Contingency management – rewards patients for positive behavior change, such as negative drug tests. After completing treatment, patients should think about having a relapse prevention plan, such as an aftercare program.