Your pupils have constricted to tiny pinholes. It’s hard to stand up, your legs are jello. As you stumble toward a chair, you realize it’s hard to stay awake taking those few steps. Not even completely sure of where you are anymore, your body dizzily tumbles to the floor after realizing too late your trusty arms have also become as useless as your legs at holding up your weight. Just before losing consciousness, you glance over the room, barely catching a glimpse of your fingertips which are becoming blue from your breathing and heart rate drastically reducing. Drifting to sleep, the world goes away.

You may wake up in an emergency room, but chances are you’ll be dead within a few moments…and you can’t even be sure why…wasn’t that a normal bump of cocaine?

This is the tale of an increasingly typical fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that typically comes under the brand names Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze and is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine as a painkiller, has overtaken all other opioids as the prime culprit in opioid overdose deaths. While cocaine and heroin are still wildly popular among all illicit drugs, fentanyl’s extreme potency has propelled it into the ‘most dangerous drug’ territory, riding the wave of the opioid abuse stemming from prescription abuse.

Many of the overdoses have involved other drugs, but that’s especially what makes it dangerous. In cocaine, it’s appeared in several regions mixed in due possibly to negligence of suppliers which deal in multiple drugs. In heroin, it’s sometimes mixed in as a way to cut costs and deliver higher potency to customers. Whatever the case may be for its appearance, it is the main factor leading to its new position in the hierarchy of dangerous substances. Between 2013 and 2016, overdoses on the extreme painkiller have risen at a rate of around 113 percent each year.  

While addiction itself can be a killer, when the possibility of fentanyl making a cameo appearance in a user’s poison of choice, even relatively safe use turns into a game of Russian Roulette, where anything used has the potential to kill when purchased off the street. With no quality control, no warnings, and seemingly no idea on the part of the suppliers in some cases of the presence of the drug in their own product, addicts and new users alike are at risk of taking their last ride.

The only real way an addict can prevent an untimely demise at the hands of this highly dangerous drug is to seek addiction treatment and possibly treatment for an underlying cause of their addiction such as depression and anxiety that typically accompanies substance use disorder.

Discovery InstituteIf you or anyone you know might be suffering from addiction and wishes to find sober living in New Jersey, Discovery Institute rehab can offer help. Call 844-478-6563 to discuss diagnosis and treatment options with a trained specialist.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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