Substance abuse is a serious problem in the United States today. As Jon Zibbell, the former epidemiologist for the CDC stated in a recent Buzzfeed News article, “It’s not your father’s drug market anymore. What we are really seeing is people now using multiple drugs, and stronger synthetic drugs of all kinds.”
Many people understand the severity of the opioid crisis, thanks to the media, but what often gets overlooked is the use of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. These drugs also cause severe addictions, dependencies, and often, deadly overdose. What’s even worse is that many people are also mixing these drugs with others, such as the mixture of meth and fentanyl, which is even more likely to cause deadly side effects like overdose.
How Fentanyl Affects the Brain and Body
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States.” This is because fentanyl is extremely cheap to produce, and people are making it on the street, rather than using illicitly diverted fentanyl from doctors’ offices, hospitals, etc. Fentanyl is often added to other drugs, like heroin and meth, because a little bit of it can go a long way toward creating a high.
Fentanyl binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, which is how it causes the intense high associated with the drug. Over time, the brain begins to adapt to the effects of the drug, which causes an individual to build up a tolerance to it. In addition, the individual also is no longer able to experience pleasure from anything but the drug.
Fentanyl also causes extreme sedation, confusion, slowed breathing, and unconsciousness. This means it can become deadly even on its first use. Even people who build up a tolerance to other drugs, sometimes even other opioids, can overdose on fentanyl because it is such a powerful drug.
How Meth Affects the Brain and Body
Methamphetamine, unlike fentanyl, is a stimulant drug. This means the high caused by the drug is created by increased activity in the body and brain. People who use meth often experience increased physical activity, faster breathing, high blood pressure, and high body temperature, in addition to a euphoric rush (Center for Substance Abuse Research). In addition, the high is often very short-lived because the drug is usually smoked from a small, glass pipe. This causes people to continue using the drug over and over in order to prolong their high, which can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Over time, meth abuse can actually damage the brain’s nerve terminals and lead to issues similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Also, people often experience psychosis after abusing meth for a prolonged amount of time, which can even resurface years after their last use of the drug (NIDA). Meth abuse also leads to severe weight loss, malnourishment, skin disorders, and other physical issues.
Why Do People Mix Meth with Fentanyl?
In some cases, people do not even realize fentanyl is being mixed into their methamphetamine. This is because people who make street drugs often use the former in heroin, cocaine, and meth to increase the high experienced by the user for a fraction of the cost. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Pennsylvania, this often leads to a situation where the drug users, and even the dealers, “are frequently unaware of the exact composition of the drugs they are selling or purchasing.”
Still, in some situations, people may mix drugs together knowingly simply to create a more intense high. It is often said that people who become addicted are always looking for the same experience they had the very first time they used drugs, back before they became tolerant to their effects. In many cases, this leads people to increased amounts and intensities of drug abuse to the point where it causes overdose and death.
The Deadly Effects of Mixing Meth and Fentanyl
Some people believe that the stimulant effects of meth and the opioid effects of fentanyl would cancel each other out, creating a strong high without the side effects that can lead to a deadly overdose. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Drugs don’t all have the same effects on every user, and their side effects do not counteract one another as if there is some simple, chemistry equation behind their use. Instead, what winds up happening is the use of two very powerful drugs at once puts an inordinate strain on the user’s body and brain.
In addition, many people who are taking meth and fentanyl together do not realize they are doing so. Often, individuals who take meth or cocaine laced with fentanyl have a low tolerance for opioids and are at risk of overdose (NIDA). Essentially, these are two of the most dangerous drugs one could take alone but especially in combination when it comes to overdose.
What Should I Do If I Think Someone I Love Is Using Meth and Fentanyl?
If you have been abusing meth and fentanyl together, it is time to seek help. This is a severely dangerous practice, and it’s unlikely you will be able to stop on your own. Ask your friends and family members for their support, but more importantly, reaching out to a rehab center is the best way to get the safe, effective care you need to recover.
If someone you love is using these drugs, it is important to talk to them about their dangerous substance abuse and your concern for them. If talking doesn’t help, staging an intervention with the help of a professional may be necessary. No matter what, they will need professional treatment in order to safely end their abuse of these dangerous drugs and begin their recoveries.
Call Today to Begin Your Recovery Journey
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, it is never too late to get help. Call our 24-hour hotline at 1-888-903-9898 to speak with a treatment advisor. La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center provides care specifically designed to help individuals in the LGBTQ community and supportive treatment for those who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction