OUD, Relapse and Fentanyl
Many people can stay sober in recovery with the help of a treatment program and support system. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a particularly insidious disorder. People who need help with OUD usually benefit from detox, treatment, and sometimes Medication-Assisted Treatment. Relapse among opioid users is common, sadly. But relapse can also be part of a success story, too. Getting back up and staying in recovery is an option.
People with OUD get sober and start their recovery journey every day. For those new to recovery, relapse can still be an issue. Fentanyl poses serious challenges for people who may relapse.
Opioid Use Disorder and Fentanyl
Opioid use disorder is a disorder of the brain. When the brain is deprived of opioids, a person who uses them will experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms. People with access to Medication-Assisted Treatment typically experience minimal symptoms, making their sobriety success rates higher.
People with opioid use disorder often use different opioids, ranging from heroin to morphine. Fentanyl, however, is a drug that is more dangerous than morphine. It can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and has a high overdose fatality rate.
Opioids are dangerous enough because they are so addictive. When people use one dosage for a period, they grow tolerance and need more drugs to get the same effects. With fentanyl, this can mean certain death. Fentanyl is responsible for up to 80% of opioid overdose deaths. Much of it is made by drug dealers in a garage or lab, and there are no quality or safety checks.
People who use other drugs may still end up using fentanyl. The DEA has said that 26% of trafficked pills, often purported to be something else, contain a deadly amount of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a dangerous narcotic, and an opioid-naïve user can accidentally overdose when digesting even a tiny amount.
Fentanyl and Other Opioid Use
Many people with opioid use disorder start taking drugs like Oxycontin and later take morphine or heroin as their supply dwindles. The pandemic also caused supply chain issues for the world of illegal narcotics. Because of this, people who were addicted to one type of opioid sometimes had to settle for another drug that they may not have been familiar with.
For many people who are addicted to opioids, it’s challenging to quit. If a person who uses Percocet or another less potent opioid switches to fentanyl suddenly, their body may not be able to handle it. Fentanyl, when mixed with other drugs, can also have an exaggerated effect. In both cases, a person’s breathing and pulse may slow. If they stop breathing, they will die.
Narcan, an opioid-overdose reversal drug, is an essential tool that can save lives. People who have ingested deadly amounts of fentanyl often need multiple canisters of the drug to help reverse an overdose. They also need to be monitored in the hospital.
Relapse, Opioid Use Disorder, and Fentanyl Dangers
Relapse is often a part of a person’s recovery journey. That’s only true, however, if the addicted person is lucky enough to make it back to recovery. People who relapse on drugs have higher overdose death rates. It’s not always an easy journey back to sobriety for some people.
People who overdose on drugs often try to go back to the amount of drugs they were doing when they got sober. However, when the drug a person is using is an opioid, this can be a deadly lapse in judgment. This is true for people who use other drugs, such as cocaine, that can also be spiked with deadly fentanyl.
Many people in the US who use drugs remain unaware of the dangers of fentanyl-tainted drugs. As a result, it’s becoming a danger to anyone who uses drugs recreationally or buys them from illicit sources. More education and prevention efforts are needed from a public health perspective.
Sober Living Can Help You Stay on Track
Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of anyone’s recovery journey. Building a solid support network and learning the foundations of the 12-step program can help you stay sober, a day at a time. Sober living homes help add structure and give independence in early recovery. Learn more about our sober living programs by calling 760-216-2077.