Who’s at Risk of Fentanyl Overdose? The Slippery Slope of Prescription Pill Abuse

Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl is the cockroach that refuses to die. Despite our best efforts, this deadly drug continues to proliferate, showing up over and over again where you least expect it. Most recently, fentanyl-laced prescription pills have devastated communities and created a significant risk to unsuspecting users. This synthetic opioid, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, has infiltrated the illegal drug market and understanding who is at risk can hopefully help to slow the slippery slope of prescription pills abuse and overdose. 

The Hidden Danger in Prescription Pills

Historically, when it came to the illicit drug market, prescription pills were considered the safe bet. Unlike street drugs, prescription medication, even when bought and sold illegally, was a known commodity. As a user, you didn’t have to worry about it being made with potentially deadly cutting agents. These pills were made in a professional laboratory with safety standards. Unfortunately this no longer holds true. 

Today, fentanyl is made, manufactured, and sold as prescription pills, such as Percocet and Oxycontin. These fake pills look nearly identical to their legitimate counterparts, making it extremely difficult for users to distinguish between the two. Someone may unwittingly believe they are taking a regular painkiller, but instead, they are consuming a lethal dose of fentanyl. This deception has led to a surge in overdoses, as even a minuscule amount of fentanyl can be fatal. 

Who Is at Risk?

Prescription Medication Abusers

If you use or abuse prescription medications for non-medical reasons you are at a high-risk of overdose. This includes those who take higher doses than prescribed, use someone else's prescription, or seek out pills from illegal sources. Chasing a high can inadvertently lead you into an early grace from fentanyl-laced pills. 

Recreational Drug Users

Recreational drug users, particularly those who seek out opioids for their euphoric effects, are especially vulnerable. Many of these individuals might be unaware that the pills they purchase on the street are contaminated with fentanyl, putting them at significant risk of an unintentional overdose. Recreational opioid users are playing a game of Russian Roulette every time they ingest a prescription opioid. 

Teens & Young Adults

Adolescents and young adults are particularly susceptible due to the increased likelihood of experimenting with drugs. Peer pressure, curiosity, and the misconception that prescription pills are safer than illicit drugs contribute to this demographic's risk. The availability of fentanyl-laced pills exacerbates the danger, making experimentation potentially deadly.

Chronic Pain Patients

Patients with chronic pain who become dependent on opioids may turn to illicit sources when their prescriptions run out. Desperation can lead them to the black market, where the prevalence of fentanyl-laced pills can result in unintentional overdoses and death. 

The Slippery Slope of Prescription Pill Abuse

The journey from prescription pill abuse to fentanyl overdose often begins innocently. It might start with a legitimate prescription for pain relief. Then, as tolerance builds, you start to increase your dosage without medical guidance. Eventually you become dependent on these pills and your abuse really skyrockets. When prescriptions are no longer available or run out too soon, the search for similar relief will drive you to the streets, where fentanyl-laced pills are common.

The potency of fentanyl means that even a single pill can cause respiratory depression, coma, or death. The unpredictability of the dosage in counterfeit pills makes every use a potentially lethal gamble. This stark reality underscores the importance of addressing prescription pill abuse before it escalates to a life-threatening situation.

Preventative Measures & Seeking Help

The first line of defense against fentanyl overdoses is education and awareness. People have to be aware of the reality that fentanyl is everywhere - including their prescription pills. The risks are real. Parents, educators, and healthcare providers play vital roles in disseminating this information and fostering environments where open discussions about drug use and its dangers can occur. We all have to do our part. 

For those struggling with prescription pill abuse, don’t wait to get help. Seek out a licensed professional treatment program in your area. Substance abuse treatment facilities offer a range of services, including detoxification, counseling, and support groups that can help you overcome your addiction and stop a preventable overdose from occurring. ​

Get Help Today

The prevalence of fentanyl in pills has transformed prescription pill abuse into a deadly game of chance. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call Owl’s Nest Recovery today. Early intervention can save lives and steer individuals away from the path that leads to fentanyl overdose. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and don't hesitate to seek help.


The Owls Nest


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