Over the last few years the Opioid Crisis has overwhelmed our communities across the Nation and around the world.  Overdose deaths in the United States involving opioids have increased significantly.  The graph below provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), indicates Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 46,802 deaths. This was followed by a significant increase through 2020 to 68,630 overdose deaths.

As a nation we have learned pain control medications that contain opioids are in fact highly addictive. Many adjustments have been made in doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and educating the general public about the potential for abuse.  Furthermore, approximately 50% (NIDA)of all overdoses involve Fentanyl and is predicted that this number will continue to trend upward, prompting people to be more educated and informed about Fentanyl. 

What is Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.  It is a Schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery (National Institute of Drug Abuse).

Similar to other opioid analgesics, fentanyl produces effects such as: relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression.  (Drug Enforcement Administration DEA).

Fentanyl is being added to other drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA (Ecstasy) among others to increase its affect and strength. Some users think they may be using a particular drug and it in reality it is laced with Fentanyl (B. Ramin).  

How Wasatch Behavioral Health is helping

WBH has a full team of professionals to support people who are struggling with opiate abuse including fentanyl.  Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of prescription medications and therapy for people who suffer from addiction.  Medications work to normalize brain chemistry and block the euphoric effect of opioids. Methadone and Buprenorphine are used to treat substance use disorders by reducing opioid cravings, sustain recovery, and prevent overdose.

In addition, Wasatch Behavioral Health Center for Opiate Recovery (COR) is an accredited Opioid Treatment Program and provides methadone dispensing, individual and group counseling, and support.   

In Summary

Opioid-involved overdose deaths, predominantly Fentanyl, has claimed the lives of thousands of people.  Other States have seen significant increases in its use, abuse, and mortality.  In Utah, we are noticing increases prevalence of fentanyl, however we have been told that we have not seen its full effect.  Having treatment options and support are vital to helping people recover.

Randy Huntington, LCSW
Division Director
Wasatch Behavioral Health

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