Fentanyl 101: The Top 5 Dangers & How to Stay Safe

While the War on Drugs continues to be fought, one drug has risen above the rest as public enemy number one. In just a short time, fentanyl has become the scourge of treatment professionals and law enforcement alike. Knowing the dangers of this lethal narcotic is crucial if you want to stay safe and avoid becoming another statistic. 


1. Potency


Fentanyl is one of the most powerful opioid narcotics on the market today. Someone without an opioid tolerance can fall into respiratory failure and death by coming into contact with a single grain of pure fentanyl. Due to its strength, it is actively sought out by those addicted to opiates, but a single miscalculation can lead to a fatal overdose. In 2022, thanks in part to the increased supply of fentanyl, drug-overdose fatalities reached their highest rate with over 100,000 deaths.

2. Contamination


With increased prevalence comes increased cross-contamination with other drugs. There are reports of drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin being intentionally mixed with fentanyl due to its low cost of production and high rate of addiction. There are also anecdotal stories of what appear to be prescription opioid pills that are fentanyl which has been pressed into the appearance of a legitimate pill. Unfortunately, drug users often don’t know that their normal hit includes a secret dose of fentanyl. This causes fentanyl poisoning, unintentional overdose, and thousands of deaths.

3. Rapid Onset & Short Duration of Effects


The effects of fentanyl come on extremely quickly when compared to other drugs. This rapid onset provides an intense feeling of euphoria and relief. The duration of the effects, however, are temporary. This combination can lead to an increased cycle of use where the user is repeatedly using fentanyl multiple times a day. As a user's tolerance of the drug grows, duration gets shorter and it becomes necessary to use more of the drug with a greater frequency of use. Each time fentanyl is ingested there is a possibility of overdose. 

4. Difficulty in Testing


Due to its extreme potency and the trace amounts needed to cause an overdose, fentanyl is especially hard to test for. Testing on a large scale requires special equipment. Users who are testing their drugs for fentanyl can use specialized test strips, but even these are not infallible. 

5. Emotional Toll

Users of fentanyl and their loved ones are both dealt a large emotional toll due to the nature of this drug. The extreme nature of fentanyl addiction and withdrawal can lead the user to severe mood swings, depression, anxiety, sickness, and physical pain. These symptoms often lead to behavior by the user which otherwise wouldn’t occur and can strain their relationships with family and friends. Those around the user often feel helpless and afraid as their relationships and mental health deteriorate. The toll of fentanyl abuse is severe on all involved and underscore the necessity of professional treatment to battle this addiction. 


How to Stay Safe


With the dangers of fentanyl discussed, it is important to go over the best ways to stay safe:

1. Education: Knowledge is always the best defense. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of fentanyl use and overdose will allow you to better protect yourself and those around you. 


2. Seeking Treatment: If you or someone you love is struggling with fentanyl addiction it is imperative to get them into professional treatment as soon as possible. Residential treatment programs like Sunflower Recovery can provide a safe and supportive environment where users can medically detox and begin their journey to recovery. 


3. Narcan Awareness: Narcan is an OTC medication that, when administered in a timely fashion, can reverse the effects of a fentanyl overdose. Understanding how to use Narcan, where to get it and how to keep it handy gives you a greater chance to save yourself or someone you love from a fatal overdose. 


4. Support Groups: Trying to deal with fentanyl addiction on your own is a losing battle. During this time it is essential to be surrounded by friends, family or support groups for assistance and understanding. 


5. Safe Handling: If you are in a situation where you must handle substances that potentially contain fentanyl, the use of protective equipment is a must. Gloves, goggles and masks/respirators are desirable to ensure you don’t accidentally ingest the drug. Take extreme caution and avoid direct contact. Contact your local authorities to figure out the proper disposal methods for your area. 


Overall, fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug and should be treated as such. There are severe risks to those who use it and those who may be inadvertently exposed to it. Staying informed, staying surrounded, and knowing what to do in the event of an overdose will help you feel more prepared. If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction, remember that help is available, and recovery is possible. Give our admissions department a call and take that first step towards a healthier, fentanyl-free lifestyle. 


The Top 5 Dangers of Fentanyl