The Devastating Role Fentanyl Plays in the Opioid Crisis

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The opioid crisis is something that many people in the US are battling to deal with. Approximately 1.6 million people are affected by it and struggle with an opioid use disorder.

Every year, the number of overdoses and opioid-related deaths climbs higher and higher. This is thanks to the introduction of illicitly produced and distributed synthetic opioid drug fentanyl.

To learn more about fentanyl and its role in the opioid crisis, continue reading.

What Is the Opioid Crisis?

The opioid crisis has been going on since the late 1990s when big pharma companies reassured doctors that their opioid medications weren’t addictive. It ultimately led to mass over-prescription of opioids that caused many people to develop opioid dependence.

Around 2011, illicitly produced fentanyl and fentanyl analogs started taking over the street drug markets. This unregulated and unproperly made opioid is much more potent than heroin and any other available opioid drug on the market. Due to its potency, the withdrawals it produces are much more intense, making it more addictive and harder to quit.

The risk of overdose and death is much higher because of fentanyl. In 2019, 49,860 people died due to an opioid overdose in the US. Opioids made up 70.6 percent of all drug overdose deaths.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid used for severe pain relief and anesthetic. In comparison to morphine, pain relief is 100 times stronger.

Fentanyl analogs are substances made to mimic the effects of regular fentanyl. These are dangerous because they are unregulated and made illegally without safety procedures or testing.

How Are Addiction to Fentanyl and Other Opioids Treated?

Opioid dependence is not easy to overcome. It takes plenty of time and patience for people to recover from an addiction to fentanyl and other opioids successfully. It’sIt’s common for addicts trying to recover to relapse multiple times in the process. However, relapses make it easier to overdose due to the user’s fluctuation intolerance.

There are two types of treatment needed for someone to detox and recover from an opioid dependence; medication assisted therapy (MAT) and emotional/counseling therapy.

MAT is a type of therapy that uses medication as a treatment. People who are addicted to fentanyl and other opioids usually need MAT for them to be able to stop because of the harsh and uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms.

Medications used in MAT for opioid dependence include:

  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

For someone to remain clean off opioid substances, they often need to attend counseling or therapy sessions with a professional. There, they will work through their issues and past traumas and learn more healthy coping mechanisms and techniques to avoid triggers and cravings.

Behavioral therapies often used in the treatment of opioid dependence:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational interviewing

Combining these two treatment approaches can be completed in treatment facilities and rehab centers. Those places provide addicts with a safe place to detox and recover and professionals to provide them with the support they need to get sober.