Painkillers have a time and a place but some painkillers, like opioids, always carry a heavy risk.
Opioids are a type of painkiller used to treat chronic and acute pain, and in specific medically supervised environments, can also be used as a helpful part of a treatment plan.
In recent decades the United States has developed an opioid epidemic. The numbers first began rising at noticeable rates in 1999, leading to in 2021 there being over 80,000 reported opioid-based overdose deaths. In actuality, that number is suspected to be much higher, with how many drug overdoses go unreported each year.
Among the different forms that opioids take, fentanyl is one of the most dangerous; alarmingly, it’s also become one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the dangerous effects of painkillers; specifically, we’re going to identify what fentanyl is, what the effects of this opioid are, and the dangers it carries.
Effects of painkillers
The addiction to painkillers stems from the highly addictive mental and physical euphoric sensations that typically quickly follow consumption.
The most common effects of painkillers include:
- Relief of pain (even that which is severe)
- Drowsiness and confusion
- Constipation and other intestinal issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed breathing and sedation
Different painkillers produce varying levels of euphoria; some painkillers produce little-to-no effects on the body, while others produce dangerously “high” effects.
One of the most hazardous painkillers currently saturating the United States is fentanyl.
What is fentanyl used for?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid most commonly used to treat severe pain, especially for those who have undergone surgery or have been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. In these circumstances, carefully prescribed fentanyl can be beneficial to a person’s recovery.
There are two types of fentanyl, pharmaceutical fentanyl (that which is professionally made by a pharmaceutical company) and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, both of which are highly addictive.
The most common short-term effects of fentanyl include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and dizziness
- Respiratory depression
- Feelings of euphoria
Some of the long-term effects of fentanyl include:
- The development of a substance use disorder or addiction
- Respiratory and cardiovascular complications
- Weakened immune system
- Social and occupational dysfunction
- Increased risk of overdose
Fentanyl is considered one of the largest contributors to drug overdoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How addictive is fentanyl?
Fentanyl has a high potential for abuse and addiction due to its rapid and intense effects on the brain’s reward and pleasure receptors.
These heroin-like effects on the mind and body are why this synthetic opioid is so addictive. While medically created fentanyl is still addictive, it pales in comparison to illicitly made fentanyl, which is often mixed with other addictive drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.
Fentanyl, in both forms, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Over 150 people die every day from these synthetic opioids, and that number is only getting higher as fentanyl continues to be the substance of choice involved in the manufacturing of illicit drugs.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate and can affect men and women in all walks of life.
If you think you or someone you love might be struggling with an addiction or substance use disorder, send us a message; we’re here to help, whether fentanyl is the substance or not.
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