Painkiller medications can seem like little miracle pills when they’re used appropriately. 

Popping an Advil to alleviate your headache can feel like a lifeline when you’re in a situation where you can’t slow down, such as when you’re traveling, in a meeting or taking care of the kids. Sometimes, one pill doesn’t do the trick so you take another one; you might even take several throughout the day to make it through, and not think much of it.

This happens to patients who have been given an opioid prescription too often. They may have been prescribed a dosage of one pill per day, but if their pain is significantly worse tomorrow than it was yesterday, they might take an extra pill to better manage their pain. 

Taking it upon oneself to up the dosage of a pill as powerful as opioids rarely goes without some kind of negative consequences. Fentanyl especially is one of the most dangerous opioids out there; it’s also, tragically, one of the most commonly abused.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the dangers of fentanyl use and why fentanyl abuse has become so common, in medically appropriate and illicit situations alike.

What is fentanyl used for?

Fentanyl was created to be a “miracle drug” by pain specialists who developed the drug to be significantly stronger than any other painkiller before. Their efforts resulted in the production of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is more than 50 times stronger than heroin and morphine.

Because of the level of its potency, even in small doses, fentanyl was concretely decided to be only accessible through formal prescription. This prescription was to be reserved only for the most extreme circumstances, such as the intolerable pain of a devastating injury, dramatic or multiple surgeries, or cancer treatment.

Despite these initial intentions, fentanyl has become a household drug name and is being prescribed at alarming rates. Over 2,000,000 fentanyl prescriptions have been administered every year since 2015, and now fentanyl has been identified as

Why do people abuse fentanyl?

The effects of fentanyl are known to seemingly make physical pain vanish, but it also typically produces euphoric effects in the mind and body that can be extremely difficult to stop indulging.

Most people end up abusing fentanyl because they become dependent or addicted to the drug to alleviate not only their physical pain but their mental and emotional pain as well.

For those who were prescribed fentanyl by a licensed medical professional, their fentanyl abuse may simply result through the self-assigned upping of their dosage to better manage their pain. They may not even realize they’ve developed a substance use disorder until someone brings their attention to how much or how often they’re refilling their prescription.

For those who are using fentanyl illicitly, there can be a variety of reasons that led them to try fentanyl in the first place. Some don’t seek out illicit drugs, but are offered them; others might have been using less dangerous drugs but then developed a curiosity for something stronger. Others still may have sought out fentanyl to avoid facing their challenges or traumas, fully aware of the dangers, risks or potential consequences of their actions.

Regardless of how naive or conscious one’s intentions are for using fentanyl, it is always a risk.

How addictive is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is considered a highly dangerous, highly addictive substance that should only be used for serious reasons and in medically supervised circumstances.

Pharmaceutically made fentanyl is always dangerous and carries the risk for addiction just like illicitly produced fentanyl, but illicitly produced fentanyl also carries the wild card of being laced with other drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl is marked as the most toxic recreational drug in the world, with less than 0.003 grams of fentanyl needing to be consumed to result in certain death.

If you think you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, send us a message today to learn more about what your next steps can be.

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