Where were you when you heard that music icon Prince died?

When it comes to the public’s awareness of fentanyl the death of Prince due to an apparent overdose may mark the beginning. Still, this major public health issue remains misunderstood. The problems associated with Fentanyl abuse become starker when discussing teenage fentanyl addiction specifically.

The science behind fentanyl is simple enough to understand. Like all opioids, it is a drug that crosses the brains membrane and binds to opioid receptors. The speed at which this process happens is what determines the level of euphoria the user will feel. For example, morphine, when delivered intravenously in a hospital setting first circulates through the blood system before crossing the barrier. Heroin, in comparison, moves much more quickly, producing a stronger euphoric state. And fentanyl is absorbed even faster still.

Fentanyl is an entirely synthetic opioid designed for patients experiencing chronic, crippling pain. Occasionally, it was prescribed to patients with chronic pain who became immune to other opioids.

The CDC estimates that fentanyl is between fifty and one hundred times stronger than heroin. That means it takes a comparatively tiny amount of the drug to produce the same effects, and that makes overdosing that much easier. To give you a comparison, it takes less than a single milligram of fentanyl to induce an overdose, but most over the counter drugs are between two hundred and fifty and four hundred milligrams.

According to the DEA, one out of every ten teens has reported using prescription medications to get high. In some cases, the drugs used were counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. While their adult counterparts often migrate from prescription opioids to heroin and eventually fentanyl, teens often stumble into it unwittingly. Many are exposed to it through fentanyl-laced heroin. Others get their first taste through “pill parties” where teens share pills that they have obtained illegally or by raiding their parent’s medicine cabinets.

Because fentanyl acts on the brain’s rewards centers, users become both physically and psychologically dependent very quickly. The drug not only numbs physical pain but emotional pain as well. This can be an especially useful lure for teens facing difficulties at home or in school. Many teens report wanting to escape from mental stress or psychological pain as the primary reason why they began abusing prescription drugs.

Most researchers have found that there are four key elements in reducing your teen’s risk of drug abuse. They are:

  • Drug abuse awareness/education with a special focus on prescription drug abuse.
  • Open communication and active participation in your child’s life.
  • Involvement in activities or hobbies that they enjoy.
  • Getting or staying clean and sober yourself.

Teen fentanyl addiction is on the rise. Its rise is tied directly to the opioid epidemic and combatting it will require similar methods. If your teen is already in the throes of addiction, there is still hope.

Educate yourself. Understanding how fentanyl addiction and recovery works is the first and perhaps the most important factor in helping your teen recover. Know the signs of a relapse and understand the psychology of addiction.

Get help. This is a monster health issue, and nobody can do it alone. Don’t be ashamed to admit that this problem is bigger than you can handle. Get support and seek help from a reputable treatment facility. Many treatments centers offer a mix of in-patient and out-patient services to help your teen negotiate every stage of recovery.

Actively participate as a family. Fentanyl addiction doesn’t just affect the person addicted; it affects the whole family. Commit yourself to being part of the recovery. This may mean going to family therapy sessions, changing household routines, or even removing all intoxicants from the house, including alcohol.

Fentanyl is an incredibly addictive substance with devastating physical and psychological effects. IN a recent Vice report narcotics officers reported seeing more and more cases of heroin laced with fentanyl. To complicate the matter, the growth of counterfeit drugs such as oxycontin and oxycodone has exposed many more people to fentanyl and the dangers of fentanyl addiction. Falling into fentanyl addiction is neither a character flaw nor a personal failing. It is, by design, an extremely addictive substance.

This deadly substance not only ravages communities but takes lives at a dizzying pace. If you or somebody you know is battling fentanyl addiction there isn’t any time to wait. Recovery professional such as those at Centered Health are waiting to help you save a life.