“I had already lost four friends and a cousin from fentanyl overdose. They were all kids around my age. What was I thinking? I should have known better.”–Sarah Y., HeroesInRecovery.com

We all “know better” than to do things that cause more harm than good. However when we are in emotional or physical pain, knowing better has little to do with it. For those struggling with addiction, knowing better isn’t enough. Fentanyl is a powerful, deadly drug. It claims lives, and it claims more and more of them every year. As Business Insider shares, “The overdose death rate for illicitly-obtained opioids like fentanyl…is skyrocketing (it jumped 73% from 2014 to 2015).”1 Despite this and similar statistics, people seek out fentanyl every day. Their reasons for doing so vary, but the results rarely do. Fentanyl abuse can be, and often is, deadly. Even careful, prescribed use can result in addiction. There is no stereotypical fentanyl user. Addiction isn’t a choice or a matter of willpower especially when it comes to fentanyl and Duragesic patches.

How Does Fentanyl Work?

Fentanyl is habit forming. It is an opioid. When a person takes an opioid drug, the drug attaches to opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors help regulate emotions and pain. Drugs like fentanyl cause initial bursts of euphoria or feelings of wellbeing. They slow the central nervous system to create feelings of calm or sedation. They change how the brain interprets pain signals. This makes fentanyl a potentially useful tool for pain management. It also makes the drug addictive and likely to be abused.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It is more potent that many other drugs in the same class. It is available in several formats and under several brand names. You may be prescribed pills. You may be prescribed patches. Duragesic patches are one brand-name option for this form of the drug. The patches allow for longer-acting, powerful pain management. The patches also come with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Medline Plus warns, “Fentanyl patches may be habit-forming. Do not apply more patches, apply the patches more often, or use the patches in a different way than prescribed by your doctor. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family drinks or has ever drunk large amounts of alcohol; uses or has overused prescription medications; uses or has ever used street drugs; or has or has ever had depression or another mental illness. There is a greater risk that you will overuse fentanyl patches if you have or have ever had any of these conditions.”2 Even slight missteps in using a prescription drug are abuse and increase the rate of addiction. Intentional or recreational abuse creates even greater risks.

Why Do People Use Fentanyl?

Fentanyl can play an important role in medicine and pain management. Fentanyl treats breakthrough pain. It acts quickly and can deliver relief to patients who otherwise find their moods, relationships, sleep, and overall enjoyment of life interrupted by pain. Fentanyl may provide quick, efficient relief. However fentanyl isn’t a long-term solution. Other options for pain management come with less risk. These methods should be tried first, used in conjunction with fentanyl, or substituted for addictive drug use once initial symptoms are under control. When patients continue to take fentanyl rather than pursue long-term strategies, abuse and addiction become likely.

Other people self-medicate with fentanyl. They may try to treat their own pain or other physical and mental health concerns. This usually leads to quickly escalating drug use problems. It does nothing to provide real answers for health and well-being.

Some take the drug for purely recreational reasons. Many people see prescription drug abuse as better or safer than using street drugs like heroin. Street drugs are dangerous. Prescription drugs are not less so. Drugs like fentanyl still cause addiction, overdose, and other serious health problems. Duragesic patches may be more risky than many other types and forms of drugs. The University of Florida explains, “Because the patch is a sustained release form of the drug, if one withdraws the 72 hours’ worth of drug and uses it in a form that it wasn’t designed to be used for, then it can rapidly result in death.”3 Any drug abuse is dangerous. It doesn’t matter who makes the drug, who provides it, or why it is used. Ending fentanyl abuse is the only way to prevent overdose stop addiction in its tracks.

Ending Fentanyl Abuse

You know fentanyl use involves risks. You see yourself or a loved one struggling with dependence, abuse, or addiction. You want this to change. It can. Call Black Bear Lodge. Your story doesn’t have to end with fentanyl abuse. Your life doesn’t have to be defined by Duragesic patches. Call us to learn more about long-term solutions for addiction recovery and pain management. We focus on the person as a whole. We create a customized treatment plan for integrated mental, physical, and emotional health. You can break free from fentanyl. Reach out today.


1 Brodwin, Erin. “Opioid Overdose Have Jumped.” Business Insider. 28 Feb. 2017. Accessed 19 Jul. 2017.

2 Medline Plus. “Fentanyl Transdermal Patch.” 15 Jan. 2017. Accessed 19 Jul. 2017.

3 Trunk, Denise. “Prescription Pain Patch Abuse Blamed for Increase in Deaths.” University of Florida. 30 Jun. 2005. Accessed 19 Jul. 2017.