Fentanyl is an opiate-based, synthetic narcotic that is far more potent than both morphine and even the strongest street heroin. Therefore, it is unsurprising that fentanyl abuse and fentanyl overdoses are serious health problems in the United States.

Fentanyl addiction often occurs indirectly. People who are suffering from narcotic abuse are acquiring and using street drugs like heroin, and in many cases these drugs have been laced with other substances. Fentanyl is often one of them, and drug treatment centers are seeing an increase in the need for fentanyl rehab as a result.

Five deadly days in Chicago last year tells the grisly truth: around 75 people died in less than a week from a particularly strong batch of heroin laced with fentanyl. Many were dead on arrival at emergency rooms with needles still stuck in their arms.

“What is happening is the same thing that happened in 2006, when people were getting heroin that was cut with fentanyl”, speculated Diane Hincks, emergency room director at Mount Sinai Hospital on Chicago’s West Side. “That is what we think is happening.”

America’s Fentanyl Abuse Problem Starts 10,000 miles away

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Florida have all reported similar spikes in fentanyl overdoses. In nearly every case, the familiar pattern repeats itself: those already suffering from opiate drug addiction unknowingly take fentanyl-laced concoctions.

The recent increase in the availability of fentanyl can be traced directly to China. Known as the ‘China Pipeline’, the process is very simple:

  • Underground factories in places like Nanjing make huge quantities of synthetic drugs
  • Buyers in the U.S. pay for them with a few clicks over the internet
  • Chinese manufacturers send their products through the mail or other parcel carriers

The recent uptick in synthetic drug availability–bath salts, molly, spice, and flakka–can almost be entirely attributed to this process. With all the merchandise coming into America from China, most packages get lost in the shuffle. Chinese nationals have no fear of being targeted by US law enforcement, and the packages are usually addressed using false names.

Fentanyl Drug Arrest in South Florida

In South Florida, DEA agents are cracking down. They recently arrested a Miramar man who they say is part of an international drug ring that is importing fentanyl and other synthetic drugs into the United States.

“Fentanyl is much deadlier than flakka,” declared Raynette Savoy Kornickey, South Florida’s DEA spokesperson. “It’s fifty times stronger than heroin and eighty times stronger than morphine. A minute amount will kill you. It is being mixed with heroin, flakka and other drugs, and no one knows what they are taking. It’s scary.”

Fentanyl Patch Abuse

Another avenue for fentanyl abuse has been seen in the use of the fentanyl patch, originally intended for pain relief from cancer and other serious ailments. When oxycontin was phased out of the marketplace, fentanyl patch abuse took over.

Young adults are particularly susceptible to fentanyl patch abuse because the small, clear patch can look safe. But due to the high potency of fentanyl–they often “chew” the patch or place it along their gum line like chewing tobacco–the result of fentanyl patch abuse can quickly spiral out of control. There is only a tiny difference between a therapeutic dose and a deadly dose.

Prescription fentanyl can even come in the form of a lollipop; how much more innocent can a drug delivery system appear to be?

Signs of Fentanyl Abuse and Fentanyl Withdrawal

There are many signs of fentanyl abuse and fentanyl withdrawal, which are logically similar to all narcotic abuse/withdrawal symptoms. They include:

  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
  • Suppression of breathing and severe constipation
  • Itching, sweating, and shaking
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Depression and insomnia when not on the drug
  • Hallucinations and nightmares
  • Swollen extremities

It is essential that parents, educators, and physicians teach children about the risks of synthetic drugs, and get them into a fentanyl rehab program immediately if any of the warning signs become apparent.

Read Cornerstone’s available information on opiate addiction treatment if you are trying to figure out the next step in setting up a drug rehab program. If you would like to learn more about fentanyl abuse, call us today at 1-888-711-0354. Contact us for a confidential discussion about the many options that are available.