Drug use and abuse has steadily been on the rise in the United States. Prescription drug abuse is becoming the leader in problem regarding substance abuse and addiction. Some of these medications contain chemicals that have psychoactive properties; that have mind altering effects. This is why they are abused. Since these drugs are so easily accessible, available in your very own medicine cabinet, they have become the most used drug for young adults 14 years old and older; behind marijuana and alcohol. Prescription drug abuse also includes cold medicines. Fentanyl is a powerful opiate that is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. It is similar to, but much more powerful than morphine. Misuse of the drug often occurs as a result of the euphoric effects it causes and the dependency that the body develops. The common case of fentanyl abuse and addiction begins with innocent case of pain management that develops into a full-blown opiate addiction. The drug works to eliminate all the pain in the body and creates a euphoric feeling, which gives it high potential for abuse.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are broken into classes: opioid pain relievers, such as Vicodin or Oxycontin; stimulants for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall, Concerta, or Ritalin: and central nervous system, such as Valium or Xanax.

A common misconception is that prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but that is only the case if they are taken by direction of your licensed physician accordingly. Otherwise, they can be just as addictive and dangerous as other illicit drugs. Individuals also take higher quantities of the drug then recommended. They can have extremely harmful effects on the individual including overdose, especially when taken in conjunction with alcohol.

Most take the drug orally, as it is designed, but others crush the pill and snort the powder. This process slows the entry of the drug to the blood stream, which amplifies its effects. Abuse and addiction occur when an individual takes the medication for a reason other than it designed. For example, students take ADHD medication, like Ritalin, to boost test scores. While the drug may make you more alert, there are no signs or evidence they promote the notion of improved test scores, i.e. cognitive function.

Statistics

In a past year use of illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals among 12th graders, marijuana and hashish carried 36.4%; prescription drugs 32.1%, and synthetic marijuana 11.3%. Cough and cold remedies, over-the-counter drugs, are the most commonly abused drug; which is nearly 20% of all abused prescription drugs. Most people share they prescribed medication with other families members, unknowingly contributing to their addiction and possible dangers of mixing medications. There are over 2 million people in the US that suffer from opioid pain reliever abuse. Death from this disorder has quadrupled over the past decade and a half. One of the many causes for this is over-prescription of pain med’s; in 2013, 207 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioid pain medications.

While most people take their prescription medications as directed, there is an estimate 52 million people who have misused prescription medication. The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future survey has found that 1 in 12 high school seniors have reported misuse of Vicodin, a prescription pain medication. While, 1 in 20 has reported misusing Oxycontin, which makes them the two highest abused prescription medications. 16 million Americans reportedly misused prescription medication in 2010, 7million admitted to using in the past month.

Fentanyl addiction can occur at any moment in an individual’s lifespan. It has important uses in medicine, but the drug has a high potential for dependency and abuse. Due to the rise in the production of the drug illegally, it is becoming more available outside of the registered medical field. The World Health Organization states that there are more than 2 million Americans who are addicted to opiates like fentanyl. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that more than 1,000 people died from fentanyl overdose and even still there are millions of prescriptions for the drug written each year.

Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

The cause of fentanyl abuse and addiction, like all addictions, are not fully understood. It is understood that addiction is the result of various variables. Genetics, social factors, psychological factors, and self-medication can all contribute to an addiction. Certain individuals do have predisposed genetic attributes that can cause addictive behaviors. If you live or grew up in a home/area where substance abuse is prevalent you may be more inclined to develop an addiction. Those people who experience trauma, stress, depression, or anxiety like disorders are more likely to develop an addiction. Finally, those individuals that choose to self-medicate themselves are more likely to develop an addiction. That includes taking a medication for longer or higher doses than it is prescribed.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction does not produce any unique signs or symptoms, but they are very similar to those of other opiates.

-The individual will experience wide sweeping mood swings.
-They may appear elevated or depressed more than often. Anxiety is a common side effect of opiate abuse and addiction.
-Those that take the drug for extended periods or take larger amounts of the drug could be addicted.
-If they desire to quit or cut back and are unable to do so.
-Effects other aspects of their life: unable to complete responsibilities.
-They lose interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities.
-They use the drug in dangerous situations.
-Craving the drug.
-Have an increased tolerance.
-Need the drug to feel normal.
-Feelings of: fatigue, dizziness, unconsciousness, depressed respiration, increased heart rate, and/or has stomach problems.

Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

Like any other addiction, fentanyl addiction will cause decreased success in life, problems with relationships, legal trouble, and financial issues. Physically the drug will cause:

-Immune system depression
-Gastrointestinal problems
-Increased feelings of sedation
-Lack of motivation
-Social withdrawal
-Paranoia
-Personality changes
-Delusions

Signs of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Opiates are known to cause the worst cases of withdrawal. When someone stops taking fentanyl they will begin to experience those effects. Without the proper Detox program it can be very painful. They will feel agitation and restlessness. They will be irritable and will not be able to think logically. Physically they will experience chills, sweats, and insomnia. Nervousness and feeling overwhelmed will cloud their minds.

Getting Help

Due to the lack of pain and feeling of euphoria most individuals are not aware they are addicted until everything comes crashing down around them. Anyone who is abusing or addicted to fentanyl should seek professional help immediately. Most opiate addicts require the help of professionals to overcome their addiction. There are several treatment options for those in need; all they have to do is call and speak with someone.