Fentanyl: Why is it so Lethal?
“I’m only going to try it one time.” Unfortunately, there are many teenagers and young adults who make such a declaration and don’t get the opportunity to say much more after unknowingly taking a lethal dose of fentanyl. Substance addiction has been a serious matter from one generation to the next, whether it’s been methamphetamines, cocaine, or heroin. And like heroin’s distant opioid relative, currently fentanyl seems to be the drug claiming the lives of so many. So, why is fentanyl so lethal?
Fentanyl is a prescription drug in the form of a potent synthetic opioid resembling morphine. However, the difference between it and morphine is that fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent. Fentanyl is meant to be used to treat patients battling severe pain (e.g., from post-surgery) or chronic pain for those physically tolerant to other types of opioids. As individuals build tolerance to a substance, the more they need to increase the dosage in order to experience the same impact that they initially had at a lower dosage.
Prescription forms of fentanyl:
- Duragesic ®
- Sublimaze ®
- Actiq ®
American Addiction Centers (AAC) has treatment centers across the nation with the capability to treat both substance use disorders (SUDs), as well as alcohol use disorder (AUD). We provide medical detox, inpatient and outpatient care, telehealth services, and aftercare planning. If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl use or an opioid use disorder (OUD), resources are available. Please reach out for the help that you need today, or learn more about fentanyl addiction treatment.
Fentanyl and Substance Misuse
Fentanyl is one of the most common substances in overdose deaths in the U.S., amongst other synthetic opioids. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 4 out of 10 bogus pills with fentanyl may possibly contain a lethal dose. That is a high enough risk that the pill an individual takes may lead to their death. The DEA says that drug dealers mix it with fake prescription pills, heroin, and cocaine.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a rise in opioid deaths involving illicitly created fentanyl since 2013.
- 59.8% of opioid-related deaths occurred in 2017 compared to 14.3% in 2010.
- According to the CDC, more than 100,000 individuals died between May 2020 through April 2021 from substance overdoses. Roughly 64,000 of those deaths were synthetic opioid related.
When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is given as a lozenge, a shot, or a patch to place on an individual’s skin. Synthetic fentanyl is manufactured in labs and illegally sold as nasal sprays, eye droppers, powders, or created in pill form to resemble other prescription opioids. And when drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs because it provides an inexpensive “high,” it leaves users at risk of overdosing or even death itself.
AAC offers both medical detox and treatment within a supportive environment to help individuals reach long-term sobriety. If you’re currently struggling with an addiction to opioids or other substances, please reach out to get the help you need today.