Understanding the dangers of fentanyl – and the reason that getting off it safely requires a measured approach – requires understanding the opioid epidemic.
First and foremost, opioids are a class of drugs meant to alleviate pain, with brands like Vicodin and OxyContin commonplace these days. The sense of euphoria that accompanies the pain relief served to create a highly addictive experience for patients, coupled with dramatic over-prescription and you have a recipe for the unmitigated disaster that’s unfolded for the last 20-odd years.
More than 760,000 people have died from a drug overdose since 1999 and 2 out of 3 of those deaths in 2018, for example, involved an opioid according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
What does 2 out of 3 overdoses amount to? About 47,000 deaths.
So where does fentanyl come into the equation?
There is some pain which is just too much to bear.
The most typically prescribed opioids are largely derived from the opium poppy plant directly or made using the same chemical structure. Fentanyl, on the other hand, is purely synthetic.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.”
The pain that fentanyl was designed to combat – that of the late-stage cancer or post-surgery variety – is on another level and it works well to those ends.
The CDC goes on to note that most overdoses are linked to illegally made fentanyl and that deaths involving synthetic opioids were nearly 12 times higher in 2019 than in 2013.
From 2017 to 2018, for instance, opioid deaths – prescription-related and otherwise i.e., heroin – started to taper off and decrease to varying degrees while synthetic opioid death rates increased by 10%.
Synthetic opioids, generally fentanyl, are the 3rd wave of opioid overdose deaths as the CDC puts it. The sheer potency of the drug is brought into stark relief in an image the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shared, showing what would be a lethal dose for most people; a penny with 2 milligrams of fentanyl next to it which would barely cover the year on the coin.
Getting Off Fentanyl
Given the dangers and intensity of the drug, the chief concern for a user, either yourself or a loved one, becomes how to get off fentanyl safely.
The detoxification process, flushing the drug out of your system, is not the most pleasant. That’s just the truth. Your body and mind have both become dependent on fentanyl to function and breaking the supply leads to varying degrees of discomfort in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting cold turkey is by far the most dangerous route to take and will result in the rapid onset of, generally speaking, the more severe symptoms of withdrawal. The likelihood of relapse is also highest with this method since the discomfort is so tremendous that a person will take it again just to ease their suffering.
To give yourself the greatest chance of getting and staying off fentanyl, a medically supervised withdrawal is among the best routes to take.
Whether it be by slowing tapering off the amount of the drug used, taking lower and lower dosages until you don’t need it anymore in other words, or utilizing a medication-assisted approach, being under the supervision and guidance of medical professionals and addiction specialists makes getting through detox significantly more achievable and comfortable.
Reach Out Today for Help With Addiction
There’s no need to be a hero when it comes to kicking fentanyl and going it alone. Help is available and it can set you up for a lasting recovery. Get in touch with us at Multi Concept Recovery to learn more about our process and treatment for fentanyl addiction.