Opioid addiction is an ongoing problem in American health. While it’s medical use is undeniably positive when used in proper settings, it has shown to be difficult to deny that when used outside of a medical facility by trained professionals to be as positive. The unfortunate truth is that a large portion of opioid addicts begin with medically prescribed painkillers and end up using heroin or fentanyl. Heroin itself is already a step up from prescription drugs like oxycodone or Vicodin, but fentanyl is over 100 times more potent than even heroin and arguably as many times addictive.
How Opioids Work
Opioids work by attaching to pain receptors in the spinal column and brain which reduce the sensation of pain sent by neurotransmitters from sites of injury or tissue damage. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid developed by Beyer in the 1960’s as an alternative to morphine. It’s typically used in special cases and with special delivery methods like time-release patches that disperse the drug into fatty tissue to slow further slow down it’s effects. However, it’s been recently discovered that many illicit drugs on the street have forms of Fentanyl or are just fentanyl itself. Many sources of heroin are being mixed with fentanyl, making their use dangerous to people who aren’t aware of this. When considering that that opioids typically cause respiratory failure in overdose, increasing the risk of overdose by introducing fentanyl becomes all the more serious. Imagine drinking what you think is decaffeinated coffee but it’s actually an espresso and you can begin to understand the dangers involved when it comes to a drug designed to numb a person’s sensation of pain with side effects that can result in death.
Fentanyl and Overdoses in Philadelphia
A majority of overdose cases which end up hospitalizing addicts involve fentanyl. Of 1,127 fatal overdoses last year in Philadelphia, fentanyl was present in 84 percent of those cases. Statewide, of 5,456 deaths from overdose, fentanyl was involved with 67 percent of those cases. These results have pointed to an opioid crisis which is manageable into a fentanyl and overdose crisis. Compounding this problem is that fentanyl is also cheaper to produce than even heroin, which contributes to the mixture of heroin and fentanyl in street distribution; charging heroin prices, advertising how strong it is and cutting it with a cheaper drug means higher profits for the sellers and bad news for someone thinking they’re getting strictly heroin.
None of this is to ignore how addiction plays into the scheme, but how a simple issue of addressing an addiction problem can quickly escalate into a life or death situation. Complicating this further is the fact that fentanyl is undetectable in drug tests, creating a situation which makes addiction problems hard to fully detect.
Pennsylvania drug rehab centers like Philly Counseling Center are staffed with trained professionals who take a holistic approach to addiction treatment, including alcohol rehab. To find out what your treatment options are including intensive outpatient in Philly, call 610-298-1999.