Drug overdose deaths are occurring at a startling rate. In 2017 alone, 70,237 people died from a drug overdose. More than half, a staggering 40,000 individuals, died from using some of the deadliest drugs in the United States. Substances such as fentanyl and heroin have shown to be part of the blame.
The traditional war on drugs has fought illicit drug use. However, many of today’s users are becoming hooked on drugs when their access to legal prescription medications dries up or becomes too expensive. This has contributed to one of the worst drug epidemics the nation has ever seen. Sadly, this epidemic is growing with the increased use of these deadly drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that is up to 100 times more powerful than the common painkiller, morphine. Originally, fentanyl was designed as a painkiller. Drug dealers later began adding it to heroin to make the street drug effects much stronger.
Now fentanyl and other opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. A fentanyl overdose can cause respiratory failure in a matter of minutes. The drug is made even more deadly because many users do not realize they’re taking it to begin with. They are unable to be prepared to respond to its effects.
Fentanyl-laced heroin and other drugs cause thousands of deaths each year. To counteract this, the government has been pushing for the widespread integration of the drug naloxone. Naloxone is called an “opioid antagonist” because of its ability to stop the effects of an opioid overdose for up to 30 minutes. This gives users enough time to call for help and receive emergency treatment.
Like fentanyl, heroin is a powerful opioid that produces an intense “high” marked by a heavy calm that washes over the body. The drug can induce euphoria as well as relieve pain.
Heroin binds to the brain’s built-in opioid receptors and produces dopamine; the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Dopamine is what the brain produces in our mind’s reward center when we partake in other activities such as eating or having sex. Heroin is extremely addictive, and people can quickly acquire a tolerance that increases their risk of an overdose every time they use it.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug made from coca leaves. Inhaled as a powder, this drug triggers the brain’s reward system and creates a burst of energy and euphoria. People who take cocaine have a reduced need for sleep and food. Users can feel hyper-aware of their surroundings through an enhanced sense of touch, sight, smell, and sound. A classic party drug, cocaine, is typically first introduced to people in social settings.
Recently, there has been a deadly habit among drug users who mix cocaine and heroin. This act, called “speedballing,” can produce a much more intense and longer high than either drug produces by itself.
Commonly referred to as “meth,” methamphetamine is a drug that can sometimes be used to treat ADHD. Crystal meth is the most common form of meth that dates to World War II when soldiers would be given doses to stay awake for long periods. Today, many people take it in a party setting to induce confidence, high levels of energy, and a sense of uncontrollable euphoria.
In 2017, approximately 1.6 million people reported using methamphetamine within the last year. That same year, around 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths were related to methamphetamines.
Often called “benzos,” these psychoactive drugs are commonly prescribed to treat a wide range of conditions, including anxiety disorders, seizures, and insomnia. The most common benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and Librium. The drug produces a drowsy, relaxed effect lasting up to 12 hours or more.
As with many other forms of drugs, people often develop a substance use disorder by trying to self-medicate with benzodiazepines. The comfortable weight of the drug’s sedative effect can provide an escape from panic, anxiety, and feelings of depression. But those feelings don’t last forever.
Benzodiazepines can lead to respiratory and heart failure through excessive sedation.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Help
Quitting one of the deadliest drugs can be almost as dangerous as chronically using them. The withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. In severe cases, withdrawal can cause bodily harm when someone attempts to quit without the supervision of trained professionals.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, contact your nearest hospital or contact a professional at Soul Surgery Rehab in Phoenix for help. Finding the right rehabilitation facility will help you safely detox from whatever drug(s) you’re currently using. We will provide you with both the physical and emotional support needed to alleviate discomfort and help you strive toward a brighter future.