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Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

 / Fentanyl

Fentanyl Statistics and Fentanyl Abuse

It is alarming that drug overdose deaths increased by 28.5% from 78,056 to 100,036 in just one year between April 2020 and April 2021.


The new data documents estimated overdose deaths from the synthetic opioids-fentanyl increased to 75673 between April 2020 and April 2021, up from 56,064 the previous year 2mg of fentanyl powder has the power to kill you when you swallow, inhale or absorb it on your skin. The effects of fentanyl, especially its rewarding, euphoric effects, are accelerated most when it's rapidly delivered to the brain, making it highly addictive.

Fentanyl Statistics

The market for illicitly manufactured fentanyl is proliferating and combined with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine, making it fatal and highly potent. Due to its low cost, there is a significant risk that illegal drugs have been intentionally contaminated with fentanyl. Opioids killed more than four times as many people from a drug overdose (OD) than homicides in the first month of 2021. Here are some crucial Fentanyl stats:


  • About 9700 drug overdose deaths were reported from March 2020 to March 2021, making it 36.1% times higher than the previous calendar year.


  • 42% of the pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2mg of fentanyl which is considered a deadly dose and can kill you depending on your usage, body size, and tolerance. DEA analysis has found counterfeit pills ranging from .02 to 5.1 milligrams (more than twice the legal dose) of fentanyl per tablet.


  • Overdose involving synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) rose 55.6 % and appears to be the primary driver of the increase in total drug OD deaths.

  • Drug trafficking cartels distribute fentanyl in kilograms. One kilogram of fentanyl can kill half a million people.


Street names for fentanyl include; Apache, China girl, China town, China white, dance fever, good fellas, great bear, he-man, poison, tango, and cash.

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Fentanyl abuse
Fentanyl stats

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain following surgery or advanced cancer. It is a schedule II-controlled substance similar to morphine but 100 times more powerful. Fentanyl has legitimate medical use when prescribed to you by a licensed medical expert. However, you may need to be monitored for potential misuse or abuse of the drug due to its addictive nature.


Illicit fentanyl, mainly manufactured in foreign clandestine laboratories and smuggled into the United States through Mexico, is being circulated across the country and sold on the illegal drug market. Illicit fentanyl contains lethal doses of fentanyl, hence a higher strength. Fentanyl appears in counterfeit tablets, pills, and gel capsules in an attempt to be disguised as prescription medications and adulterated with other drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relief medications.

What is fentanyl?

How Fentanyl Affects Your Brain

How fentanyl effects your brain

Fentanyl works by binding the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. After consuming the drug many times, your brain adapts to fentanyl, thus reducing the brain's sensitivity, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything other besides this substance.


Fentanyl harbors huge risks for addiction and abuse regardless of its prescription form because of the substance's immense potency and addictive potential. If you ingest fentanyl at unprescribed levels, you might experience an intense euphoria and sense of relaxation similar to that of a heroin high.

When you abuse fentanyl and become addicted, you become dependent on the drug, and it takes over your life. Some of the drug's effects include;


  • Extreme happiness

  • Euphoria

  • Mellowness

  • Constipation

  • Drowsiness

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Sedation

  • Tolerance

  • Addiction

  • Respiratory arrest

  • Depression

  • Overdose

  • Unconsciousness

  • Coma

  • Even death


Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl is highly addictive due to its potency. When you have been prescribed fentanyl by a doctor, you can experience dependency, characterized by withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug; dependence can sometimes lead to addiction. Substance Use Disorder is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking habits and drug use that is very difficult to control, notwithstanding its destructive consequences, which grow from mild to severe.


When you are addicted to fentanyl, you will continue using it even though it may cause health problems at work, home, or school. You may resolve to stop using fentanyl and have severe withdrawal symptoms that start as early as a few hours after the last drug intake. You may observe these symptoms;


  • Muscle and bone pain

  • Insomnia

  • Diarrhea and vomiting

  • Cold flashes and goosebumps

  • Uncontrolled leg movement

  • Severe cravings


These symptoms will make you very uncomfortable, and part of why you will find quitting almost impossible. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved some medicines to safely help with the withdrawal process for fentanyl and other opioids. Lofexidine, a non-opioid prescription, has been designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. A small electrical nerve stimulator called the NSS-2 bridge is placed behind your ears to reduce withdrawal symptoms for up to five days during the acute withdrawal phase.


In addition to medicine, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management therapy, and motivational interviewing are also used to help you modify your attitude and behavior related to drug use, increase healthy life skills and help you stick to your medication.


Side Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

Side effects of fentanyl abuse

One of the demographics that abuse fentanyl includes individuals who have been prescribed the drug for pain but, with time, continued to use it more regularly and in higher doses. Thinking that it becomes more effective while, in essence, you become dependent on it as the feelings of euphoria, sedation, and relaxation increase.

Sadly, opioid analgesics, including fentanyl, are involved in more than half of all cases treated in American emergency rooms for non-medical reasons. Many of these patients suffered from depressed breathing, coma, and pain sensation loss. Others suffered or died from an OD of illicit manufactured fentanyl.

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Bottom Line

Bottom line

Be cautious! Don't abuse fentanyl. Use your drugs as the doctor prescribes them. If you feel you are becoming dependent on fentanyl, seek help immediately. If you fear that a loved one is abusing fentanyl, don't procrastinate; seek help for them. Any drug, including fentanyl, will most likely control your life if misused. It's time to learn and understand why fentanyl is dangerous and ways to avoid it and get cleaned from it. Seek professional help.


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