Can a Ban of Fentanyl Spur Change in the US Drug Addiction Crisis?

Woman on ledge thinking about Banning Fentanyl

Contributor: Megan Wilson, BS, CADC, Timberline Knolls Residential Center

In an unexpected and significant move on the international drug stage, China recently made the decision to ban the manufacturing and sale of fentanyl, including four types of the synthetic drug: valeryl fentanyl, acrylfentanyl, carfentanil, and furnanyl fentanyl.

This unprecedented move is something that will not only impact Chinese communities but various countries across the globe. With drug overdose rates skyrocketing both in the United States and abroad, the tightened control over fentanyl in China can create a domino effect in the US drug market.

The Impact of Fentanyl Addiction

While China has taken bold moves to address fentanyl manufacturing and sales, the effects of fentanyl addiction continue to be felt in the United States. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 52,000 individuals lost their lives to a drug overdose in 2016, with over 33,000 of these resulting from an opioid overdose [1].

Approximately 144 people die from a drug overdose per day, with the majority from fentanyl, heroin, or pharmaceutical opioids. Sadly, more people are losing their lives to opioid-related deaths than from traffic accidents and gun homicides combined [1].

Man choosing a program by the seaClassified as an “epidemic” by New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino, an outspoken figure on the problematic opioid addiction trends, the impact of fentanyl addiction has been widespread, particularly affecting the millennial generation [2].

While Porrino joins many experts in the field that condone China’s recent ban on fentanyl and subsequent efforts to reduce supply and availability, the complexity of the addiction epidemic requires a comprehensive solution.

The Addictive Nature of Fentanyl

Opioid-based drugs in general are highly addictive, and fentanyl itself is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, almost 50 times stronger than heroin [2]. Within the United States, fentanyl and related compounds have been found in counterfeit pills made to look identical to prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin.

The use of fentanyl and/or prescription drugs laced with fentanyl has been connected with a higher risk of overdose and death [2]. While fentanyl has been used as an anesthetic and prescription painkiller since the 1960s, the toxicity of the drug in combination with the variability and accessibility of illegal drugs has contributed to the increases in overdoses.

Recent studies have suggested that fentanyl can be fatal within minutes of ingestion due to paralyzation of muscles in the body, which can prevent a person from breathing [3]. The effects of fentanyl on the body may also be a contributing factor to the rise in fentanyl-related deaths seen over the last decade [3].

China’s ban on this fatal drug is a positive step forward for curbing fentanyl addiction and comes at a time where drastic changes are needed to slow fentanyl-related deaths.

Seeking Out Treatment and Professional Support

Addiction specialists, public health officials, and scientists alike are searching for strategies that can help address the serious issue of fentanyl addiction and related deaths from overdose.

Woman near LakeInterventions, such as bans on manufacturing and sales of fentanyl, can be helpful in reducing availability of this dangerous drug, though other measures are needed to address the psychological and biological influences of drug addiction.

While there is no easy solution to the drug epidemic seen both at home in the United States and abroad, there are many resources available for intervention and professional treatment.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to fentanyl, it is critical to seek out comprehensive help and treatment from a specialized treatment center. The road to recovery is not an easy journey but it is one that leads to freedom from a burdening addiction that could be potentially fatal.

Take the step today toward your recovery journey by reaching out to an addiction specialist who can help you address your fentanyl addiction as well as sustain long term recovery.


[1]: United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, “Fentanyl”, December 2016
[2]: National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Emerging Trends and Alerts”,
[3]: Burns, Glenn, et al. Could chest wall rigidity be a factor in rapid death from illicit fentanyl abuse? Clinical Toxicology 21 March 2016 Vol. 54, Iss. 5.

About the Author:

Megan Wilson photo

Megan Wilson, BS, CADC has been working at Timberline Knolls since 2013.  She facilitates psycho-educational group therapy, completes substance use assessments, and takes on the leadership role of the Addictions Specialist team.

She also individually meets with residents to support a better understanding and application of 12-step recovery.

Thank you to Timberline Knolls for providing this article.

Timberline Knolls is a leading residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls, ages 12 and older, with eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, mood and co-occurring disorders. Located in suburban Chicago, residents receive excellent clinical care from a highly trained professional staff on a picturesque 43-acre wooded campus. An adult partial hospitalization program (PHP) is also available in nearby Orland Park, Ill., for women to step down or direct admit. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call 630-755-5173. We are also on Facebook – Timberline Knolls, LinkedIn – Timberline Knolls and Twitter – @TimberlineToday.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on February 24, 2017
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 12, 2021
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.