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Fentanyl Addiction Statistics

A fentanyl subscription is not uncommon in a controlled hospital setting. It can come in the form of a pill, injection, lozenges or a transdermal (skin) patch used for the treatment of chronic pain or as a post-surgery medication. Since it is more potent than morphine, it is also used for patients who have developed a tolerance for opiates. It is considered as a schedule II drug which means that although it has a significant medical value, the potential for drug abuse is still high. Common as it may seem, Fentanyl is definitely not prone to falling in the list of being one of the most abused drugs in the world. It has a very high rate of abuse since dependence and tolerance happen quickly often starting with the compulsiveness and constant preoccupation to seek out and take drug.

Often, what starts as a pain medication leads to an addiction with the user being unaware that his or her drug use is bordering beyond the legal and medical limits. Because it works by eliminating any type of pain by increasing your dopamine levels, the sense of feeling "high" or in an euphoric state might not be easy to resist. Thus, developing an addiction to this strong painkiller has been an occurrence for many people who have taken it. And the problem with it is that, even when addiction sets in, most users have trouble identifying their situation or are most often, in denial. Without treatment, the possibility of an overdose rises which has also been the cause of a lot of deaths related to Fentanyl.

Statistics from the World Health Organization in 2006 show that in the United States alone, there are more than 2 million people who have developed an addiction to prescription opiates. Although legally sold as Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze, it also has a lot of popular street names. According to the National Institute in Drug Abuse, it is known as jackpot, TNT, China girl, tango, cash and murder 8 among others.

In the 2010 report of the National Drug Threat Assessment, it shows that opioid pain medication like Fentanyl is one of the most abused drugs in the country. The National Drug Intelligence Center, who was responsible for the study, says that it is already second to marijuana. The center also discussed that these supposedly prescription drugs are used for nonmedical issues by about 21 percent of the whole population of U.S. They are said to be distributed illegally by physicians from Florida to colleges and other states. In California, 20 percent are said to be already physically dependent on a derivative of Fentanyl named as China white. The report states that in 2006, opioid analgesics caused 11,001 unintentional fatalities. Compared to the 3,994 in 2001, it is only further proof that an addiction to prescription pain drugs is rising significantly.

In 2008, a news report from USA Today states that the government released its first national tally of deaths caused by Fentanyl. It covered two states, Delaware and New Jersey plus four cities: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago. It showed that at least 1013 people died in a span of two years with an illegal version of the said drug. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention who was responsible for the tally, covered the period of April 2005 to March 2007. It has also been reported that the first clusters of overdoses from Fentanyl was observed in 2005 in Chicago. However, instances of overdoses then decreased after a shutdown of a Fentanyl operation in Toluca, Mexico by law enforcements two years prior to the report.

In illegal versions, Fentanyl powder is said to be often mixed with other substances like cocaine and heroin. Reports show that drug sellers are said to do this since it increases the chances of a rapid addiction. However, not only is potency increased, but it also amplifies dangers and adverse reactions leading to a fatal overdose. In some cases, heroin users are even unaware that Fentanyl is included in their injection. This is an important fact considering that Fentanyl is at least 30 times more potent than heroin thus making it a very dangerous drug. A report from the 1980's has even shown an outbreak of deaths wherein users were found dead while the needles were still attached to their arms.

For teenagers or young adults, it has been observed that most addicts started with leftover prescriptions from family members, like parents, who have undergone surgery. This is one of the reasons why it is encouraged that excess opiate medications should be disposed of immediately to prevent this type of occurrences at home. And since illegal Fentanyl distribution are targeted towards schools, parents are asked to be keen about uncharacteristic changes in the behavior of teenagers such as asking for an increase of allowance, being overly sensitive, constant fatigue or demanding privacy all the time which are only some of the telltale signs of drug abuse.


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