FENTANYL: THE RULE-CHANGING OPIOID
Fentanyl has been well documented since the drug and its growing abuse came to light in the early part of the 2000s. Known as the most powerful opioid ever produced, fentanyl, especially its street variation, was immediately approached with curiosity, wonder toward its power, and fear of its addictive properties.
In its legal uses as a post-surgery pain reliever, fentanyl could not be handled without gloves, and in some cases, breathing masks. It was even claimed that a person who inhaled only a trace amount of fentanyl was at risk of overdose.
Fentanyl’s reputation grew more notorious as deaths due to the drug began to increase exponentially on the streets. Overdoses were a regular occurrence, followed by the mounting deaths that was due to fentanyl use.
In the drug abuse community, the more seasoned addict knows that fentanyl is an opioid that should be regarded warily, if not avoided altogether.
In short, many opioid abusers who seek a more powerful and longer-lasting high, know not to look toward fentanyl for their next fix. That’s because a fentanyl fix more-than-likely could be the last fix of a person’s life.
If a positive can be taken away from the increasing awareness of fentanyl’s ability to cause death, it has come from addicts themselves who have become proactive toward not using fentanyl.
Clearly because of fentanyl’s emergence, the rules of addiction on the street have changed.
WHY IS FENTANYL SO STRONG?
Fentanyl’s original intent as a post-surgery pain reliever can give an idea of the drug’s power.
However, it should be remembered that medical fentanyl is different from street fentanyl, in that street fentanyl, its properties and dosages are uncontrolled.
When fentanyl is cut with an opioid such as heroin, the fentanyl’s strength can increase exponentially more than medical fentanyl which is already hundreds of times stronger than morphine.
This is where addicts across America have begun to protect themselves in lieu of fentanyl. They employ methods and processes that can help them continue their opioid addiction, but without the threat of putting fentanyl in their bodies.
WHAT KIND OF HIGH DOES FENTANYL PRODUCE?
Well-seasoned addicts are usually aware of the influences of the drugs they take. They know the side effects while on the drug and the withdrawal symptoms when one needs a fix.
The effects of fentanyl, however, aren’t that well known. Most of this is due to the high number of deaths attributed to one use of the drug.
Those who have lived to talk about their fentanyl use, claims the high is very intense and strong. Yet that high lasts a short time – shorter, in fact, than heroin.
The short, intense high is where the drug becomes even more dangerous, particularly as the first or second-time fentanyl user seeks out that same euphoria they initially received. Consequently, the fentanyl user has use continued amounts of the drug to get the same high, which puts them in great peril for an overdose or death.
HOW IS A FENTANYL OVERDOSE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER OPIOID OVERDOSES?
Addicts, emergency aid workers, drug therapists and counselors, all of whom have experience with fentanyl tell of much more quick and overpowering overdose than other opioids.
With heroin, for example, one can see an overdose occurring through shallow breathing until the user eventually nods off. In some cases, the user’s skin may also turn blue.
All of this is accelerated and intensified with fentanyl.
Fentanyl gives no warning sign of overdose. The user simply goes unconscious. As immediate is the blue hue on the person’s skin.
By now it is obvious that the user is either not breathing or breathing very slowly. However, paralysis has also set in, which means other organs may have shut down, including the heart.
While CPR will now be needed, another fentanyl-related side effect might occur which is called “wooden chest.”
Wooden chest occurs when a person’s chest seizes. This occurs when the user suffers additional paralysis in the chest region, making chest compressions nearly impossible.
If rescue breathing, also known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is needed, the user may have difficulty due to additional paralysis, this time in the facial area, which can result in lock jaw.
As word gets out about fentanyl’s power, there’s no wonder addicts are shying away from the drug for their own safety.
HOW ARE OPIOID ADDICTS PROTECTING THEMSELVES AGAINST FENTANYL DANGER?
Those in the drug community recommend the four following tactics addicts use when using fentanyl as safely as possible.
- Shoot up with a buddy: As odd as this seems, for opioid addicts, having a buddy system can be a life saver.
As one injects the drug, another person monitors the first to make certain he or she doesn’t overdose. The process is then repeated for the second person as they take their own injection.
- Taste the drug first: Opioid addicts are known to taste their drug of choice before using it. This can tell them with some exactness what it is they’re about to shoot into their arm. As to heroin, the rule of thumb is if the drug has a bitter taste, it is heroin. Fentanyl’s taste is sweeter.
- Do a micro shot: A micro shots is a small sample of a drug that a person injects into themselves. This sample can indicate the power of the drug they may inject, as well as how the user will react to it.
- Keep naxolene handy: Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication, including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing and loss of consciousness.
Naxolene’s opioid reversal properties have prevented many fentanyl overdose victims from dying. Currently, the drug is found in ambulances, medical emergency rooms, rehabilitation centers, and in some cases, carried by police officers who patrol high drug use areas.
Fentanyl is proof positive that everyone has their limit, even hardcore opioid drug addicts.
And by how addicts assist each other if they do use fentanyl as safely as possible – if not deter its use altogether – shows responsibility, both for themselves and others.
Of course, this still isn’t the existence any of us would want for a loved one or friend. Instead, we’d rather have them completely off drugs, which would make for the perfect rule change in that person’s life.
If you or a loved one have an addiction issue, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers, we custom tailor our recovery programs with the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction, and help you achieve true recovery. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.
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