America’s drug epidemic has been massive and accelerating. 2021 was the worst year ever for drug overdoses in America, with overdoses topping 100,000. These overdose deaths came from a wide array of drug sources. [1]

Unfortunately, a huge driver of this epidemic has been fentanyl. Fentanyl has seen a massive spike in use over the past few years, resulting in a huge increase in addiction and deaths. Deaths that were attributable to fentanyl were over 56,000 in 2020, the last year that statistics were available. This number was virtually non-existent a few years previous and the fact that fentanyl has become so dangerous is indicative of the serious public policy problem it has caused. This also explains why so many have died of a fentanyl overdose over the past few years. [2]

Thankfully, there is hope: Individuals who are looking for treatment for fentanyl addiction can find this treatment at any number of treatment facilities. One such example is Transformations Treatment Center, which can provide addiction treatment services for fentanyl addiction and an array of other addictions.

What Is Fentanyl and What Is It Normally Used For?

Like most drugs, fentanyl did not start as an illegal drug. It was originally designed as an opioid that was meant to be used as an anesthetic for pain reduction. The drug has its origins in the 1950s and was legally prescribed for decades. Indeed, despite the rise in illegal use and abuse of the drug, it is still used in many medicinal settings. When used appropriately, the drug can provide extensive relief for patients who have suffered some sort of physical trauma or are in pain. The problem is that the substance is highly addictive. [3]

Fentanyl has been compared to a more powerful version of morphine. According to estimates, the drug is 50 to 100 times more powerful—and more addictive—than that opioid. This can result in serious addiction and challenges to people who become addicted. Like other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to your body’s opioid receptors. This is also responsible for the euphoric properties that fentanyl can cause. Unfortunately, like any other opioid, a fentanyl overdose is possible. [4]

What Is Being Done About the Fentanyl Epidemic?

The fentanyl epidemic has been devastating and policymakers are well aware of the serious dangers that the drug poses as well as the massive number of people who have died of a fentanyl overdose. As a result, the government has implemented quite a few measures to defeat this ongoing epidemic. These include:[5]

  • Working with foreign governments, such as China and Mexico, to crack down on counterfeit fentanyl and stop it from crossing the border.
  • Increased law enforcement efforts to arrest and stop drug dealers.
  • Increased treatment for fentanyl addiction, funding more bed spaces and medical personnel to address the crisis.
  • A variety of legal changes designed to encourage people to get help. This includes increased availability of Naloxone and “Good Samaritan” laws that ensure people will not be charged with drug use or possession if they call 911 to get help for someone who is overdosing on a drug.
  • Mandated insurance coverage for Naloxone.
  • Increased training for medical staff on the dangers of opioids and fentanyl in particular. This training is designed to reduce the over-prescription of these drugs and make sure that medical staff is aware of the dangers these drugs can cause individuals.
  • Cracking down on families—like the Sacklers, who are behind Purdue Pharmaceuticals—that contributed to the opioid epidemic by manufacturing and marketing drugs they knew were dangerous.
  • The creation of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. These are confidential databases run by states that can alert doctors when a patient is “doctor shopping,” meaning that they are seeking out opioids from different doctors and collecting multiple prescriptions. It can also flag doctors who are inappropriately or excessively prescribing opioids.
  • New prescription drug guidelines designed to make it harder to give powerful opioids—like fentanyl—and thus reduce the number of people who are addicted to these drugs.

Despite this extensive list of actions the government has taken, the opioid epidemic remains as deadly as ever. This is why so many facilities—like Transformations Treatment Center—have developed extensive and comprehensive fentanyl treatment programs that can help you beat your addiction.

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When Did Fentanyl Become Prevalent?

As noted above, fentanyl has been in existence and use since 1959. However, according to the CDC, the third “wave” of the most recent opioid epidemic began in 2013 and was largely fueled by an increase in the supply of fentanyl. This largely occurred due to the rise of illegally manufactured forms of the drug that began to arrive in the country. Since the drug is even more addictive and deadly than heroin, it is believed to have been a large source of opioid-related deaths in the United States.[6]

What Are the Implications of the Rise of Fentanyl?

The rise of fentanyl—and the deaths that it has caused—is significant. Fentanyl overdoses kill thousands of Americans every year and the rise in popularity of fentanyl led directly to the fentanyl epidemic.

First, fentanyl can be easily produced and policymakers have struggled to stop its flow. This implies that the fentanyl epidemic will be with us for a long time.

Even more frightening is that many individuals can use fentanyl without even realizing it. This can have deadly consequences.

Many drugs are laced with fentanyl. This is done so that drug dealers can sell more of a product at lower costs to themselves. This can have deadly consequences, as users will use large amounts of fentanyl without even realizing that they are doing so. Drugs that are sometimes laced with fentanyl include meth, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. This has helped to further spur on the current fentanyl epidemic and has led to an increased need for treatment for fentanyl addiction. [7]

It has also become clear that law enforcement responses alone are not sufficient to handle this crisis. Arrests for drug possession and sale have skyrocketed since the 1990s, but it has become apparent that these arrests have not stopped the problem. What seems to work better is a robust combination of social services and treatment options. This, in turn, has resulted in a fundamental reordering of the criminal justice system when it comes to drug crimes. Instead of incarceration, courts are increasingly turning to treatment as an alternative. [10]

How Has the Pandemic Contributed to the Crisis?

There is no question that the pandemic has contributed significantly to the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. Indeed, deaths began to skyrocket shortly after the pandemic began.[1]

There are many reasons that the pandemic has exacerbated this crisis. This includes:[8]

  • The economic dislocation that came from the pandemic caused major spikes in depression or life disruption, causing individuals to turn to drugs or alcohol.
  • The loss of normal social support networks.
  • Trauma caused by death or illness, which made individuals turn to illegal substances.
  • The decrease in the typical supply of other drugs because of the pandemic.
  • Difficulty accessing treatment as a result of insurance changes.

What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction?

There are many signs of fentanyl addiction. These signs exist on many levels, including physical, behavioral and cognitive [9].

On a physical level, signs include disorientation, sleepiness, appearing “out of it,” nausea, sedation and constipation.

People who use fentanyl and are addicted to it may appear euphoric, relaxed and at peace. However, all of these signs may abruptly reverse themselves as they come out of their high when a user may experience an unpleasant crash.

Finally, individuals who become addicted to fentanyl are very likely to experience many major life changes. They are likely to engage in more secretive behavior as they try to cover up their addiction. They may also change their social group, dropping old friends and becoming closer with individuals who, like them, use and abuse fentanyl. It is also very likely that people who are addicted to fentanyl will begin to perform worse at work or school as they focus increasingly on their drug habit.

If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, fentanyl, or something else, you should know that there is hope. Transformations Treatment Center can provide treatment for fentanyl addiction. We can help you reclaim your future, take care of your family and rebuild your life. If you want to recover, you can. Reach out to Transformation Treatment Center today and let us help you.











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