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Fentanyl Addiction & Abuse Statistics

As opioid addictions become more and more prevalent, particularly among today’s youth, research is showing prescription drugs like Fentanyl are becoming the drug of choice, surpassing even Heroin addiction. Keep reading to find out more about Fentanyl addiction and abuse statistics.

What is Fentanyl?

Before we can dive into the Fentanyl addiction and abuse statistics, we need to first look at exactly what Fentanyl is and how it works in order to find out exactly why it is being abused as a drug for people to use to get high.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is about 50 to 100 times more potent than that of a similar drug – morphine. It’s used as a prescription drug to treat patients with severe pain; usually prescribed following a surgery. Occasionally however, it is prescribed to treat patients who might be dealing with chronic pain. The prescription names for fentanyl are: Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze.

Fentanyl Addiction and Abuse Statistics:

fentanyl nicknames

  • The most common street names for fentanyl include: Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash.
  • Although official statistics for fentanyl abuse are difficult to come by because the effects are so similar to that of illegal drugs like heroin, nationally, the total amount of drug seizures in 2014 reached 4,585. This number jumped from just 618 in 2012.
  • The states most known for fentanyl abuse are Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Indiana. Although abuse and drug seizures are beginning to become more and more prevalent toward the western United States.
  • Most of the recent fentanyl-related deaths have taken place in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Appalachia. In many cases of death, it is a result of the drug being mixed with heroin.
  • Because most state crime laboratories and coroner’s offices do not track fentanyl-related deaths, official fentanyl death statistics can be difficult to come by.
  • While most fentanyl-related deaths occur from illegal usage of the drug, legal use of the drug is also on the rise. In 2015, doctors wrote 6.64 million legal fentanyl prescriptions in the United States. In many cases, the drug abuse begins with a chemical dependency that stems from initial legal use of fentanyl.
  • For decades, heroin has been one of the most commonly abused and most dangerous illegal street drugs. However, with the rise of synthetic opioid production like fentanyl, many drug cartels are opting for the drugs like fentanyl instead. It is easier and cheaper to make that heroin and it is being manufactured at a record pace, according to law enforcement.
  • Because Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, along with the fact that it is so powerful and fast-acting, this is what leads to overdose and deaths among users.
  • Every day in the United States, an estimated 2,500 youth (ages 12 to 17) are believed to abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time.
  • While illegal drugs are often the concern among parents with their teens, it is actually prescription drugs like fentanyl that cause the largest percentage of deaths related to drug overdosing. Of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2005, opioid painkillers were the most commonly found drug. This accounted for 38.2% of these deaths.
  • In 2005, 4.4 million U.S. teenagers (aged 12 to 17) admitted to illegally abusing prescription painkillers. The average age for first-time prescription drug abusers is now 13 to 14.

Fentanyl Addiction:

fentanyl stats

Because the synthetic opioid is so potent, it is an easy drug to abuse. When used legally, fentanyl is administered via injection, patch or as a lozenge. However, illegally, it is typically used via powder like heroin or by tablet or spiked on blotter paper. Often, the drug is mixed with other drugs like heroin, which can become a deadly combination.

Fentanyl works like other opioid drugs like heroin and morphine by adhering to the brain’s opioid receptors that work on the areas of the brain that control pain and and emotions. When these areas are stimulated by the opioid, the dopamine levels rise to a level that creates feelings of euphoria. This is the reason it is a commonly abused drug as the abuser is attempting to reach that level of euphoria again and again. Unfortunately tolerances can be built, which causes the user to have to ingest more of the drug to reach a higher level of euphoria. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to fentanyl, contact a healthcare professional right away to get the help and support needed to decrease and eliminate dependency on this highly-addictive drug.


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