Fentanyl addiction has become all too common for its users. The medically approved substance is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine - a substance that already creates many dangerous habit-forming conditions. Sadly, fentanyl has become the next step because of its extreme potency. The drug was originally classified for use in only the most extreme conditions of pain such as patients with terminal illnesses, sickle cell anemia, or emergency surgeries.
Fentanyl addiction is catalyzed by illegally produced versions of the substance, which can be multitudes stronger than the medically approved standard. 3% of properly administered medical uses cause respiratory depression. The drug is such a powerful sedative that it essentially turns off the body’s motive to continue breathing. In cases of street or recreational use, this is often deadly. Use of Fentanyl counted for over 20,000 overdose deaths in 2016, which is almost one third of all overdose deaths that year.
Fentanyl addiction is considered in the same category as opioid use disorder. The symptoms for this type of addiction have many similarities to most substance abuse disorders but are more hazardous in the case of substances like fentanyl that are so easily fatal. The American Psychiatric Association provides 11 key indicators of addiction and uses the standard of two behaviors within 12 months as the trigger for addiction.
- “Recreational” type usage of fentanyl, where dosages and frequency of use increase over time
- Continuous failure to stop or wean usage of fentanyl despite a desire to do so
- Dedication to use of fentanyl occupies much of the individuals time
- Persistent interest and or ache for using fentanyl
- Erosion of the individual’s ability to maintain their work, home or school responsibilities
- Prioritizing the use of fentanyl over fixing the life problems it has caused
- Avoidance or removal from participation in routine work, school or social activities
- Increased risk in use of fentanyl such as while driving a vehicle
- Seeking increased use to fix the psychological problems that fentanyl initially caused
- Tolerance building
- Experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal when use stops or when dosage is smaller
Fentanyl addiction is likely to continue growing as a mental and physical health hazard. Statistics show that use of opioids has been and will continue to be the first step in this direction, and because of its incredible strength, fentanyl will always be the final step. Recovery from extreme substance abuse cases like fentanyl addiction are extremely difficult, but the alternative is most often death. One of the biggest problems for helping these individuals is awareness. Use of this drug can be easily disguised, and most commonly, users will have withdrawn from most social activity, leaving family and friends at a loss to help guide them toward medical attention and recovery.