The Fentanyl Crisis and COVID-19
Ever since COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic in March 2020, everyday life has been upended for millions of Americans. Stay-at-home orders have given rise to distance learning, working from home and other dramatic shifts in people’s normal lifestyles.
As struggling Americans found themselves shut into their homes and lacking the support system they desperately needed, many of them were forced to fight their inner battles on their own. The past year and a half has seen a significant uptick in rates of mental illness, alcohol abuse, drug addiction and other severe disorders.
One of the most commonly abused substances over the course of the pandemic is fentanyl, a type of opioid that can be extremely addictive. Here’s everything you need to know about the rising fentanyl crisis and how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted it notably.
Fentanyl: What to Know
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic known for its highly addictive properties. Although this drug is similar to morphine, it is significantly more potent. It has even been estimated that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and other common types of opioids.
Due to the extremely potent nature of fentanyl, this substance has been one of the leading factors in the rise in opioid abuse over the past decade. Fentanyl is normally prescribed to treat severe pain and to help patients cope with acute pain or discomfort after surgery. It can also be a promising remedy for those who struggle with chronic pain.
When a person takes fentanyl, the drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Once that person begins to abuse the substance, their brain becomes accustomed to it and requires a higher dose to produce the same emotional response. Some of the most common effects of fentanyl abuse include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Because fentanyl is a notoriously addictive drug, there is a high risk of developing a strong dependence on the substance. Fentanyl abuse can take a severe toll on a person’s life if they don’t receive the help they need, which is why it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of addiction.
How COVID Has Impacted the Fentanyl Crisis
Fentanyl abuse has been a topic of concern since 2013. However, what was already an emerging public health crisis accelerated even further with the rise of COVID. The anxiety of living in a pandemic world coupled with social isolation created the perfect storm for a heightened opioid epidemic.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, the total number of deaths caused by opioid overdose climbed to unprecedented levels at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. As the coronavirus progressed over the course of the spring, monthly overdose deaths increased by an estimated 50%. Research also shows that about 80% of opioid-related deaths in the early months of the pandemic involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The fentanyl crisis has been increasingly widespread on a national scale. During the first eight months of 2020, deaths caused by opioid overdose rose in almost every state. Western and southeastern states saw a particularly large spike in deaths, with Louisiana, South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona and California suffering an increase of 60% or more.
These haunting statistics demonstrate that fentanyl abuse and the overarching opioid epidemic is a crisis that affects everyone. The pandemic has been especially hard on victims of addiction and their loved ones. While the light at the end of the tunnel is emerging with the arrival of COVID vaccines, the struggle isn’t over for those who are battling fentanyl addiction every day.
Seeking the Help You Need
Fentanyl abuse is a rapidly growing issue that cannot be ignored. Whether you’re struggling with fentanyl addiction or know someone who is, it’s crucial to reach out for help so that you or your loved one can embark on the path to recovery. It doesn’t matter what your addiction looks like or how long it has been going on. At Topsail Addiction Treatment, we offer custom-tailored treatment plans to meet your individual needs and goals.
Before taking the next step forward, it’s important to take the time to learn about the different options that are available to you. The dedicated experts at Topsail specialize in partial hospitalization treatment (PHP), intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) and outpatient treatment (OP).
PHP, the highest level of outpatient treatment, is designed for those who are facing significant drug addiction. Meanwhile, our outpatient and intensive outpatient programs give patients the opportunity to engage in their normal daily activities while receiving top-tier treatment. Our level of flexibility ensures that each individual has access to the care and support that they need to achieve a full recovery.
In addition, Topsail Addiction Treatment programs include specialized fentanyl addiction treatment. Depending on your specific needs, you will receive PHP, IOP or OP treatment to address your unique addiction. Regardless of the nature of your fentanyl abuse, our highly skilled and caring team of professionals will work closely with you to design a treatment plan that works best for you as an individual.
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