You’ve likely read or heard about the massive rise in drug overdoses in this country. This epidemic had been particularly devastating over the past decade, with nearly half a million Americans dying of drug overdoses in the 2010s.[1] Unfortunately — thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic — these overdoses have gotten worse. Preliminary data indicates that over 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2021, and that number shows no signs of decreasing.[2]

Many different factors have influenced this massive drug epidemic. However, one example is the spike in fentanyl, a deadly drug often laced with other substances. Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased sharply over the past few years. This deadly and highly potent drug is causing problems throughout the country, leading many to refer to ongoing events as the fentanyl epidemic. [3]

Thankfully, there is hope, as drug treatment centers like Transformations Treatment Center can help people get the help they need to recover and prevent a fentanyl overdose. Transformations Treatment Center offers a variety of treatment options designed to meet your needs and get you to help you or a loved one recover from any addiction. This includes treatment for fentanyl addiction.

What is fentanyl and what is it normally used for?

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug initially created for medical purposes. It works on receptors in the brain to reduce pain and can be a potent painkiller. Some estimates say that fentanyl is 50–100 times more powerful than morphine. The problem, unfortunately, is that it is also much more addictive and ultimately more dangerous. This can make treatment for fentanyl addiction difficult. [4]

Under normal conditions, doctors will typically prescribe fentanyl when patients are in extreme pain, like in the aftermath of a significant injury, trauma, or surgery. Fentanyl is given as a shot or in patch form.

Unfortunately, fentanyl has all of the hallmarks of being addictive, and this addiction can lead to a fentanyl overdose. Users will usually become tolerant of the drug, meaning they will need more and more to achieve the same desired effect. It also has various side effects, including creating pleasant, euphoric, and relaxed feelings. This can result in increased addiction and a fentanyl overdose. It has also led to a worsening fentanyl epidemic.

Looking for more info? Read about Kati’s story of fentanyl addiction. If this story inspires you, please reach out today to Transformations Treatment Center, and learn more about how we can help you recover find treatment for fentanyl addiction.

Need More Information?

Start Your Journey - We are here to help

What is being done about the fentanyl epidemic?

Fortunately, policymakers are well aware of the issues that have been caused by the fentanyl epidemic and the rise in drug use. They have also recognized that, while important, arrests and law enforcement are not the only way to stop the ongoing fentanyl epidemic. This has resulted in major policy changes, including increased treatment for fentanyl addiction.

Federal, state, and local policymakers have taken a series of steps designed to clamp down on the ongoing fentanyl epidemic. These include:[4]

  • Stepping up law enforcement efforts to capture and seize counterfeit fentanyl that crosses American borders.
  • Enacting “Good Samaritan” laws at the state level. These laws allow individuals to call 911 for someone suffering from a fentanyl overdose without fear of being arrested by law enforcement if they were also using drugs.
  • Expanded funding for a slew of treatment options, including addiction programs.
  • Increased availability of drugs like Narcan, which can reverse a fentanyl overdose or the overdose of another opioid, such as heroin.
  • Tightening prescription standards, making it harder for doctors to give extended amounts of certain drugs, including opioids like fentanyl.
  • Creating prescription drug monitoring programs that make it harder for patients to “doctor shop” for opioids and let law enforcement know about doctors who are inappropriately prescribing these drugs.
  • Pursuing legal action against pharmaceutical companies — like Sackler Pharmaceuticals — that were involved in creating and promoting opioids despite knowing their risks. Much of the funding from these legal settlements has gone towards treatment for fentanyl addiction.[5]

What other drugs are being laced with fentanyl?

One of the many factors that have led to this fentanyl epidemic is that fentanyl is often found in a slew of commonly used and abused drugs. These include cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamines. This problem is exacerbated by users not knowing that a drug has fentanyl in it. Drug dealers and manufacturers will “cut” a drug with fentanyl to extend their supply. Unfortunately, this often comes at the expense of their customer. Indeed, the fact that drugs are being laced with fentanyl helps explain the massive fentanyl epidemic and the rise in the need for treatment for fentanyl addiction.[5]

Drugs are often laced with fentanyl within a geographic area. This often leads law enforcement and local medical centers to warn users that drugs in the area have been found to contain deadly levels of fentanyl. Indeed, the news is replete with such stories. Sadly, this highlights one of the many serious tragedies of the fentanyl epidemic: Users may overdose on the drug without realizing they took it.[6]

How to know if another drug has been laced with fentanyl?

One of the greatest dangers of fentanyl is that users don’t even realize that a drug they are using has been laced with it—until it is too late. This can lead to a fentanyl overdose. It can be challenging to tell if a drug has been laced with fentanyl, and this is why it is so important that users of illegal drugs check their drugs first.

This challenge is made worse because you can’t tell if a drug has been laced with fentanyl by smelling, tasting, or feeling it. Fentanyl is odorless and tasteless. The only accurate way of determining if a drug has fentanyl in it is by using a fentanyl strip. As the name implies, a fentanyl strip is a narrow piece of paper that will react when placed in a drug if that drug contains fentanyl. This can alert users that their drug has fentanyl so they can avoid using it, thus preventing a deadly fentanyl overdose.

The sale of fentanyl strips can also provide advocates an opportunity to give information to someone on treatment for fentanyl addiction.

The power of fentanyl cannot be understated: The drug can kill someone with their first use. As such, fentanyl stripes can help to alert a user of the presence of fentanyl and allow them to avoid making a deadly mistake. This can also stop someone from potentially becoming addicted to fentanyl, suffering from a fentanyl overdose, or needing treatment for fentanyl addiction. [5]

What are the symptoms of drug overdoses?

There are many common symptoms of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin overdoses. If someone you know or love is in danger of overdosing on drugs, you should be aware of these symptoms and be prepared to respond to them if needed.

Common symptoms of drug overdoses include:[7]

  • Pupils that shrink and become like pinpoints.
  • Slowed or nonexistent breathing.
  • Heavy sleepiness or falling completely unconscious.
  • Odd sounds, like choking or gurgling.
  • Unresponsive to movement and limp limbs.
  • Cold, clammy, or discolored skin.

If you suspect someone of overdosing on any drug, the first thing you should do is call 911. As noted above, almost all states have a Good Samaritan law in place. This law means that you will not be arrested for calling 911, even if you used drugs with the victim.

If the drug overdose is opioid-based, you can also administer Naloxone. Naloxone is a nasal spray that can be given to overdosing individuals. It binds with the opioid receptors in your body and can end an overdose almost instantly. It may require multiple administrations, and users often have to be trained to use the nasal spray. Fortunately, there are no ill side effects if you give Naloxone to someone who is not overdosing. As such, you can provide a person with Naloxone without fear that you may cause some harm in doing so. Naloxone is also highly effective and capable of reversing a fentanyl overdose.

A fentanyl overdose, of course, is the last thing that you want someone to experience. If you believe someone you love is at risk for a fentanyl overdose, the best thing you can do is get them help and explore treatment for fentanyl addiction.

If you or a loved one is addicted to fentanyl, you need treatment for fentanyl addiction, and you need it before you suffer from a fatal fentanyl overdose and become another tragic story of the fentanyl epidemic. There is good news: With the proper treatment and resources, you can access treatment for fentanyl addiction. If you are interested in learning about treatment for fentanyl addiction, reach out to Transformations Treatment Center today. We offer an array of programs that can help you beat any addiction. Don’t wait — call today.




[4] [5]




Coronavirus (COVID-19): Response and Updates for Clients, Families, and Referents Read More