Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and even a small dose of fentanyl can lead to overdose. Abuse and addiction statistics show that fentanyl is a serious public health risk in the U.S., and some regions throughout the country have been devastated by this powerful drug. Fentanyl has been one of the largest contributors to the current U.S. opioid epidemic. Florida is one state that has been significantly impacted by fentanyl use. Statistics can help illustrate the scope of the problem, and awareness of local treatment options can allow people to seek help when they need it. Fentanyl Abuse Statistics by Age Though fentanyl use has increased in nearly every category, statistics show varying patterns of use in different age groups. While it’s hard to determine the exact fentanyl addiction rate, it’s estimated that 4.4% of adults have misused non-prescription fentanyl in the last year. Fentanyl Use in Adults Fentanyl use is most common in adults. In Florida, people aged 24–35 had the highest rates of opioid-related emergency room and hospital visits. Intravenous and intranasal fentanyl abuse is also more likely to result in negative health outcomes in adults. Fentanyl Use in Teens Recreational fentanyl use has also increased among teens, and this age group accounts for some of the largest increases in fentanyl-related deaths. In some cases, teens are intentionally taking fentanyl to get high. However, accidental overdose is also common in teens. There’s a higher risk of overdose when fentanyl has been mixed with other drugs, and a person may overdose if they’re unaware that they’re taking fentanyl. Fentanyl Use in Seniors Although rates of fentanyl misuse are lower in older adults compared to younger adults, there has been an increase in fentanyl-related deaths in seniors. Fentanyl is commonly used for treating pain or common illness in seniors. However, fentanyl patches may contribute to overdose because the drug can be extracted from the patch and used in a different way. Fentanyl Abuse by Gender Patterns of fentanyl misuse appear to differ between men and women. Men are generally more likely to die from synthetic opioid use, and fentanyl-related deaths have increased 2.5 times more quickly in men than in women. However, other reports suggest that non-medical opioid use is higher in women. While prescription fentanyl may be used during pregnancy under close medical supervision, recreational use during pregnancy can have serious consequences for the mother and fetus. Fentanyl Use in Florida Though fentanyl use has been on the rise throughout the United States, several states — including Florida — have seen particularly high rates of use. It’s difficult to capture the exact rates of fentanyl use in Florida since many people do not report use. However, fentanyl-related deaths in Florida increased by 115% in 2013, and the drug remains a public health problem throughout the state. Fentanyl and Driving Statistics Side effects of fentanyl include drowsiness and slowed reaction times, which can each make driving dangerous. Research has found that drivers who were at fault in two-car accidents were more likely to test positive for prescription opioids. Fentanyl use causes impairment that can lead to car accidents, and it creates danger for the driver and others on the road. In some states, driving with opioids in the system is a punishable offense, regardless of whether the opioids were prescription or illicit. Fentanyl Overdose Fentanyl overdose statistics highlight the extreme risks involved in taking even a small dose. Drug overdose rates from around the country are increasing, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl are driving these rising rates. Between 2010 to 2014, deaths caused by fentanyl overdose increased by as much as 250% in Florida. Taking too much fentanyl can lead to slowed breathing, seizures or even death. Many people accidentally overdose because they are unaware that the drug they are using has been mixed with fentanyl. Most Common Co-Occurring Substances in Fentanyl Overdose Illicit drugs are often laced with fentanyl to increase their potency, and people may not know if their drugs contain fentanyl. In addition, people cannot predict the strength of the fentanyl they’re receiving, as potency can vary from batch to batch. Fentanyl has been linked to polydrug deaths, and it is often added to drugs like cocaine, benzodiazepines, and heroin. Fentanyl drug interactions can also contribute to life-threatening effects. For example, if fentanyl is combined with another drug that slows breathing, the consequences can be potentially lethal. Fentanyl-Related Deaths Fentanyl has significantly contributed to the increasing opioid-related death rate in the United States. From 2016 to 2017, death rates related to synthetic opioids increased from 6.2 to 9.0 per 100,000 people. At the same time, fentanyl represented 66% of all opioid-related deaths. In Florida, the rate of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids is 11 per 100,000, which is higher than the national average. Fentanyl-Related Crimes The rise of fentanyl as a public health problem is related to an increase in illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking. For example, crime statistics show U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a total of 5,000 pounds of fentanyl between 2015 and 2018. In Florida, criminal activity has involved manufacturers mixing fentanyl with drugs like cocaine. Unfortunately, crimes by these manufacturers are hard to track. Fentanyl Treatment and Recovery Rates Fentanyl treatment and recovery rates are not as well-tracked as the rates of fentanyl use or overdose. However, research suggests that abstinence is possible, and recovery rates may be improved by medication-assisted therapies. Fentanyl rehab and addiction recovery may include medical detox or methadone maintenance in combination with psychological therapies. Addiction is a complex disorder, and treatment is often a long-term process. Initial inpatient treatment often lasts 90 days, but outpatient programs can last months or even years. Fentanyl Relapse Rate Relapse rates for substance use disorders are estimated to be between 40% to 60%, which is comparable to relapse rates for other chronic diseases. Completing fentanyl withdrawal without attending subsequent treatment can increase the chances of relapse or overdose, as the core causes of addiction have not been addressed. If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl misuse or addiction, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can help. Contact us today to discuss treatment options that can work well for your situation. SourcesRamos-Matos, Carlos F.; Ojeda-Lopez, Wilfredo. “Fentanyl.” StatPearls Publishing, October 2019. Accessed December 20, 2019. Schepis, Ty S.; McCabe, Vita V.; Boyd, Carol J.; McCabe, Sean E. “The epidemiology of prescription fentanyl misuse in the United States.” Addictive Behaviors, September 2019. Accessed December 21, 2019. Florida Department of Children and Families. “Patterns and Trends of the Opioid Epidemic in Florida.” 2018. Accessed December 21, 2019. Kilwein, Tess M.; Hunt, Preston; Looby, Alison. “A Descriptive Examination of Nonmedical Fentanyl Use in the United States: Characteristics of Use, Motives, and Consequences.” Journal of Drug Issues, April 2018. Accessed December 21, 2019. 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We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.