Opioid Overdose Rates Increase Due To Fentanyl

Opioid Overdose Rates Increase Due To Fentanyl

Over the past year alone, the opioid overdose rates in America have skyrocketed to 93,000, a shocking 30% increase since 2019.1 Many factors have played a role in these increased rates, such as pandemic-related stress and lack of proper addiction treatment. However, one of the most impactful reasons for this shift is the rise in fentanyl usage.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid drug that is only prescribed by medical professionals in cases of severe pain or as an anesthetic. This substance can lead users to feelings of euphoria, relaxation, drowsiness, and confusion.

However, overdosing is all too common when consuming fentanyl. Fatalities from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl rose 55% in the 12 months ending in September 2020.2 An opioid overdose occurs when the drug overwhelms the brain and interrupts the body’s ability to breathe, leading to comas, permanent brain damage, and even death when left untreated.3

Why Are Opioid Overdose Rates Climbing?

There are two reasons why fentanyl is contributing to the increasing rates of opioid overdoses:

#1: It Is Commonly Laced In Other Drugs

One of the most dangerous things about fentanyl is that the majority of individuals that overdose on the drug aren’t even aware that they consumed it in the first place. This is because fentanyl is often laced into heroin and other drugs, or even used to mimic a prescription opioid pill without the user’s knowledge. The combination of fentanyl and another substance leads to more potent and dangerous quantities of drugs in the body, leading users to overdose more easily.

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#2: It Is An Extremely Potent Opioid

There’s a reason why two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths were from fentanyl in 20184; it has a much stronger physical effect on the body than other commonly abused opioids. Thus smaller quantities can lead users to overdose. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than the already-strong opioid morphine.5

Signs And Symptoms Of An Opioid Overdose

With the rates of opioid overdose only continuing to increase due to fentanyl, recognizing the symptoms of an opioid overdose might be the information needed to save someone’s life. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms after taking an opioid:

  • Constricted pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Inability to talk

Also note that if Narcan is available, you can administer it while waiting for emergency personnel. 

The Importance Of Enrolling In Opioid Addiction Treatment

To combat the rising cases of fentanyl overdoses, it is crucial for those struggling with opioid addiction to enroll in a drug addiction treatment program before it’s too late. Some of the life-changing services that Desert Cove Recovery provides clients to support them towards a sober life includes:

  • Referral to a detox program to safely wean off of opioids under medical supervision
  • Individual and group counseling
  • 12 step programs
  • Mental health therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectal behavior therapy
  • Other holistic care caters to the unique needs of each person struggling with addiction

Opioid Addiction Is Possible With Desert Cove Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to fentanyl or another opioid, don’t wait to get the help and support you deserve. With years of experience and a wide range of proven treatment techniques available, Desert Cove Recovery has developed a drug rehab program to help individuals maintain a substance-free life.

To learn more about how we can help you start your journey towards recovery, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.


[1] https://www.npr.org/2021/07/14/1016029270/drug-overdoses-killed-a-record-number-of-americans-in-2020-jumping-by-nearly-30 (30% increase)
[2] https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/04/22/989833102/overdose-deaths-surged-in-pandemic-as-more-drugs-were-laced-with-fentanyl (55%)
[3] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/patients/preventing-an-opioid-overdose-tip-card-a.pdf
[4] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/opioid-overdose fentanyl
[5] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl (50 to 100 more potent than morphine)