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What is Fentanyl?

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What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions (relaxation, pleasure and contentment). Approved by the Food and Drug Administration for pain relief as a Schedule II prescription drug, it is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Both are considered synthetic opioids. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, especially after surgery and for advanced-stage cancer, however, most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, highly addictive, more dangerous and essentially more deadly.

According to IQVIA National Prescription Audit™, the total number of prescriptions dispensed for fentanyl during the height of the opioid epidemic, in 2016 and 2017, were approximately 6.0 million and 5.0 million, respectively. Per the CDC, in 2020, more than 56,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States, which is more deaths than from any other drug class. Synthetic opioid-involved death rates increased by over 56% from 2019 to 2020 and accounted for over 82% of all opioid-involved deaths in 2020, more than 18 times higher than in 2013.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and the services provided at New Season Treatment Center are safe to utilize while taking fentanyl and can be a reliable resource for recovery.


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