How Does Fentanyl Work?


Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has been making headlines due to its growing prevalence and the dangers it poses. While fentanyl has a legitimate medical purpose, it has also found its way into the illegal drug market, contributing to the devastating opioid epidemic. Read on to learn how fentanyl affects people and the risks involved with abusing it.

Fentanyl: A Powerful Painkiller With a Dark Side

In hospitals, fentanyl is a valuable tool. It’s approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, allowing doctors to manage severe pain, particularly in patients with a tolerance to other opioids or who are experiencing breakthrough pain despite using long-acting opioids. It binds quickly to opioid receptors in the brain to create feelings of relief and euphoria.

Unfortunately, fentanyl’s potency has made it a target for illegal production and distribution. Drug traffickers from countries like Mexico and China manufacture synthetic fentanyl in labs, often with little regard for the precise dosage. Then, they add their product to other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and counterfeit pills. The problem is that fentanyl is odorless, tasteless, and can resemble many other substances, making it impossible to detect without specialized test strips.

According to DEA administrator Anne Milgram, fentanyl is the single deadliest drug our nation has ever seen. It is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause, including heart disease and cancer.

The Prevalence and Dangers of Fentanyl

Fentanyl use has escalated nationwide in recent years. Since fentanyl is so common throughout the drug supply, many people take it without knowing it. Unfortunately, its high potency also means it’s extremely addictive, and users can quickly become physically and psychologically dependent.

Given its strength, even trace amounts of fentanyl can be deadly. It is a central nervous system depressant that slows breathing rates. Often, fentanyl use results in hypoxia, a condition where not enough oxygen reaches the brain, potentially causing coma, permanent brain damage or death.

The clandestine nature of fentanyl production and distribution also heightens its danger. Since it can look like so many other drugs – including legal prescriptions – people who take it unwittingly are at an increased risk of overdose.

Finding Help at Hope Lodge

At Hope Lodge, we understand the devastating impact of fentanyl and other opioid addictions. Our dedicated team of professionals provides comprehensive care for substance use disorders. As a Joint Commission-accredited treatment center, we use evidence-based treatment methods to ensure the best possible outcomes for our clients.

It can be overwhelming to quit using fentanyl without support. Medical detoxification is the first step in the recovery process. Hope Lodge’s detox program uses a combination of medication-assisted treatment and holistic techniques to ease withdrawal symptoms. Our goal is to make the detox process as comfortable as possible, while still ensuring your safety and stabilizing you to move into the next phase of rehab. Our boutique approach, unique Lake Arrowhead location and small client-to-staff ratios also support positive outcomes for our clients.

Contact us today to learn how to reclaim your life from addiction and find a path to a healthier, substance-free future.