What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic or to treat severe pain. However, this potent opioid drug causes intense side effects when abused. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most potent opioid drugs on the market, which means people are misusing it more and more. Those who become addicted will require some form of fentanyl addiction treatment.

Keep reading to find out more about fentanyl, including the most effective forms of treatment options and how to get relief from the vicious cycles of opioid dependence!

How Does Fentanyl Work?

Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl and other opioids, such as heroin and morphine, bind to opioid receptors in the brain that govern pain and emotions. After repeated use of synthetic opioids, the brain and opioid receptors adapt to the medication, decreasing sensitivity and making it challenging to feel pleasure from anything apart from the drug. Drug-seeking and use take over a person’s life when they become hooked.

How People Use Fentanyl

When prescribed by a health care professional, fentanyl is often administered as an injection, a skin patch, or lozenges. The illegal fentanyl version most commonly related to overdoses is manufactured in laboratories. This lab-made fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, blotter paper, eyedroppers, fentanyl nasal spray, or pills that resemble other prescription opioids.

According to the DEA, fentanyl is often mixed with other narcotics by some drug dealers, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because small amounts of the synthetic opioid fentanyl can deliver a high. Most drug users may be unaware that their pills may contain fentanyl. They might take greater opioid doses than their bodies are used to, increasing their risk of overdoes.

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What are the Effects of Fentanyl?

The effects of prescribed or illicit fentanyl vary in individuals based on:

  • Health and weight
  • Tolerance
  • Use of other drugs
  • Fentanyl dosage
  • The potency of the drug

 

Fentanyl usually causes a euphoric feeling and relief from chronic pain. Side effects include stomach upsets, incoherent speech, and loss of balance.

Is Fentanyl Addictive?

Yes. Due to its high potency, fentanyl is addictive. Even when a person takes fentanyl as prescribed by a doctor, they may develop dependence. Fentanyl dependence usually causes withdrawal symptoms when a patient stops using the drug. A person might be dependent on a substance without being addicted to it, yet addiction can also result from dependence.

Addiction is the most severe manifestation of substance use disorders (SUDs). People with SUDs obsessively seek and use drugs, which can be difficult to control despite the harmful consequences. When people are addicted to drugs, they continue to use them even though they cause health difficulties or problems in jobs, school, or at home. A substance use disorder can cause moderate to severe symptoms.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms

The intensity of fentanyl’s opioid withdrawal syndromes varies depending on their health and dosage. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms involve physical and psychological effects like:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Anxiety
  • Fever and chills
  • Stomach issues
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Running nose
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Heavy sweating
  • Breakthrough pain

 

Withdrawal occurs in three stages: early, peak, and long-term. During each phase of fentanyl withdrawal, people experience different symptoms.

1. Early Withdrawal Signs

These occur two to four hours after the last dose. They usually involve mild discomforts like body aches, chills, and constant yawning. Cravings for fentanyl and anxiety often accompany the physical symptoms.

2. Peak Withdrawal Symptoms

Peak symptoms usually start between 24 and 36 hours after the last fentanyl dose and can last for about a week. They include heightened early symptoms and additional signs, like fever, which may necessitate medical intervention.

3. Long-Term Withdrawal Signs

Long-term withdrawal may begin weeks after medical detoxification, making continuous aftercare essential to prevent relapses. Former fentanyl often experiences cravings and disruptive thoughts. Below are the most common long-term withdrawal signs.

  • Depressive disorders.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Carefree thoughts and actions can cause physical injury.
  • Self-harm.
  • Insomnia.

 

Although most fentanyl withdrawal signs are not life-threatening symptoms, fluid levels must be regularly monitored to avoid dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting. If left unchecked, rapid fluid loss can induce salt accumulation, leading to heart failure. Call us now at 877-959-7271 to locate a medically supervised treatment center that can help ensure a safe withdrawal treatment process.

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Managing Fentanyl Withdrawal

If you have taken fentanyl for over two weeks, you should consult your doctor about developing a withdrawal strategy. The painful withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and patients benefit from medical monitoring during detoxing. Patients may require additional drugs to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal.

Tapering Off Fentanyl

Tapering refers to lowering the quantity of fentanyl you take gradually until you no longer require the dug. A healthcare practitioner can help develop a plan for slowly weaning yourself off the medication over several weeks or months.

Healthcare providers will monitor your health during tapering to monitor your vital signs and symptoms. You may need to provide blood samples to determine the amount of fentanyl in your system.

Doctors often suggest seeing a mental health professional to help you manage any emotional distress you feel about the withdrawal process. Behavioral changes can also help with physical and emotional symptoms.

Tips for Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms

The following tips can help you cope better with withdrawal:

 

  • Eating healthy
  • Staying hydrated
  • Relaxation techniques like meditation
  • Positive social support
  • Moderate exercise
  • Recreational activities

 

If you have been taking opioid medications like fentanyl to relieve severe pain, your doctor can initiate different plants to treat pain.

Fentanyl Detox & the Need for Medical Supervision

The consequences of fentanyl withdrawal are manageable through a blend of withdrawal management and medical detox. The first stage of treatment is usually medical detox is often and provides numerous benefits.

Advantages of Medical Detox in Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Whether you are planning on using medication-assisted treatment such as methadone or Suboxone or deciding to be completely abstinent from all forms of opioids, there are several advantages to medically supervised withdrawal from fentanyl:

 

  • Minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal
  • Allowing healthcare providers to detect underlying medical concerns
  • Creating long-term strategies for opioid addiction rehabilitation
  • Minimizing the likelihood of relapse
  • Eliminating physical dependence on opioids

 

Those seeking sobriety may opt for a medical detox in inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment centers. The treatment facility depends on the individual’s living environment and withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox removes remaining fentanyl from the body, eliminating its harmful effects. After detox, the body returns to normal functioning.

The Dangers of Using Fentanyl Recreationally

Fentanyl is so dangerous because it is more potent than almost any other opioid drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states it is 50 times more potent than morphine and even more potent than the illicit opioid drug heroin. Fentanyl abuse can lead to a number of serious side effects.

When people misuse fentanyl, it is usually the type that is manufactured illegally rather than the drug that is prescribed by doctors.

 

  • While prescription fentanyl can also cause problems for those who take the medication in large doses, those who misuse street-manufactured fentanyl can be unaware of the many impurities often found in the drug.

 

  • Those who buy fentanyl illicitly are also sometimes likely to be unaware of the fact that the drug is present in the substance they are buying or that so much of it is present. Many people who have tried to cut heroin with fentanyl or taken fentanyl-laced heroin experience overdoses as a result.

 

Overdoses are the main danger associated with this drug because of its intense potency. A person who overdoses on fentanyl will likely experience:

 

  • Life-threatening respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Fatigue
  • Delirium
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting

 

There are many ways a person can die of a fentanyl overdose, and in many cases, people do. The NIDA states that illicitly produced and sold fentanyl was the main cause for the increase in synthetic opioid overdose deaths. These numbers more than tripled from 3,105 in 2013 to 9,580 in 2015.

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Treatment for Fentanyl Overdose

An overdose occurs when a drug causes substantial ill effects and fatal symptoms. People who overdose on fentanyl may experience slowed or stopped respiration. This can reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia can cause a coma, long-term brain damage, and even fentanyl overdose death.

Patients who overdose on fentanyl need medical help immediately. Since most drug dealers mix fentanyl with other drugs to maximize profits, it is often challenging to determine which drug one has overdosed on. If you think someone has experienced this deadly and dangerous syndrome, call 911 right away and stay with the individual until the first responders arrive. Then, treatment can begin.

Many first responders are now carrying Narcan, a brand name drug containing naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can treat an overdose and reverse the effects of the drug (National Library of Medicine).

 

  • It can be administered as an injection or a nasal spray.
  • It causes the effects of the opioid overdose to stop almost immediately, and while this saves the individual’s life, it can also be painful.
  • The person may require more than one administration of Narcan in order to avoid the reoccurrence of symptoms.

 

The patient should be brought to a hospital as soon as possible.

 

  • In 24-hour treatment centers with hospitalization, patients can be monitored for further symptoms and re-administered Narcan if necessary.
  • The individual will need to be stabilized after the overdose and assessed for any permanent issues such as brain or lung damage.

 

After the individual is cleared for release, it is highly necessary that they receive treatment for fentanyl abuse and addiction. Without it, they will most likely return to using the drug and experience another life-threatening overdose.

Fentanyl Abuse Treatment Methods

When a person overdoses on a dangerous drug, it is usually a sign that they will require treatment to avoid relapse and to begin recovery. There are a number of treatment options one can expect to find in a fentanyl rehab center, including

Medications

Medications can treat opioid withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping fentanyl abuse, dual diagnosis including mental disorders, and cravings for the drug. Some of the most often used medications for treating fentanyl addiction include

  • Methadone: an opioid agonist drug
  • Buprenorphine: a partial opioid agonist drug
  • Naltrexone: an opioid antagonist drug

Behavioral Therapies

These therapies can help patients learn the skills they will need to avoid relapse and live their lives without drug abuse. These programs can also help patients determine the reasons behind their drug abuse, develop coping skills or attitudes that can assist them in their recoveries, and avoid triggers or other issues that could lead to relapse.

In addition, holistic programs and aftercare can be helpful to those recovering from fentanyl addiction. Depending on the facility, one can find the treatment options that work for their needs and build a personalized program for recovery along with their caregivers.

Tips for Effective Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Ambien Addiction Treatment

It is critical for family members to have realistic expectations about the rehabilitation process. People still regard addiction as an acute condition, although it is a chronic disease. It, like other chronic conditions, must be managed over time. While it is conceivable, it is uncommon for someone to recover and never relapse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for it to be effective. Many American states have laws that allow family or loved ones to enter an addict into a treatment program involuntarily. However, effective treatment often involves the following requirements.

Easy Availability

Addiction is a chronic and progressive illness. The sooner someone starts rehabilitation, the better the outcome. People who are actively addicted often exhibit unusual behaviors. This has a detrimental societal impact on many parts of their lives, including personal relationships, work and education. Some fentanyl addicts can develop mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), causing a dual diagnosis.

Although many addicts don’t seek help, failure to treat fentanyl addiction may lead to health complications or death. Therefore, treatments should be available when needed.

Continuum of Care

Fentanyl addiction is a chronic illness that needs attention for the rest of one’s life, like diabetes or hypertension. In the case of minor substance abuse, counseling to establish coping skills may lead to full recovery. But severe addiction treatment will most likely include:

  • Detox to manage withdrawal.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment.
  • Outpatient treatment programs.
  • Reintegration into the community.
  • Continuous medication supervision.
  • Participation in support groups.

Detox Isn’t Complete Treatment

Detoxification is a step toward recovery. When detoxing fentanyl, medical supervision is essential because abruptly discontinuing the substances can be lethal. Detox is rarely enough to sustain recovery on its own.

While some people in recovery believe that withdrawal is the most challenging aspect of the process, others believe that the most difficult part is keeping off drugs and dealing with cravings following detox.

Treatment Takes Time

Irrespective of the treatment type, the duration of treatment depends on the intensity of the person’s fentanyl addiction and co occurring mental illnesses. Most people will need at least three months of treatment. Longer treatment times are linked to improved treatment outcomes.

Since SUD is a long-term condition, people in recovery need time to learn how to handle their illness, and family members must also manage their expectations. Relapse is a part of the recovery process. Consider concentrating on the time you or a loved one have spent in recovery rather than the times you have relapsed.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Medical practitioners usually assess people in recovery for underlying physical and mental health issues. Heavy and persistent use of opioids like fentanyl can cause transient psychosis in people who are genetically prone to it. If a person has anxiety or depression and a substance use disorder, a psychiatrist cannot quickly determine whether the mood illness is primary or secondary. A short fentanyl addiction treatment program may fail to assess and treat co-occurring disorders unless it is evident that these problems preceded the addiction struggle.

Co-occurring mental health issues and SUD need to be addressed concurrently. Fentanyl addiction treatment that does not address associated mental health illnesses may cause relapses. However, getting treatment for dual diagnosis can be challenging. Explore facilities at Find Addiction Rehab to locate a dual-diagnosis treatment center near you.

A Holistic Approach to Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Family therapy

Drug rehabilitation facilities offer a wide range of counseling options like:

 

  • Individual or one-on-one therapy.
  • Group therapy.
  • Family therapy.

 

The most common type of therapy is group therapy. Most rehab centers offer behavioral therapies such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and contingency management. These therapies address the fundamental causes of people’s reliance on substances and assist them in developing good coping skills. Therapy and counseling take time because it entails breaking old habits and building new ones.

Considerations for Adolescents Using Opioids

Adolescents require early intervention because their brains are still developing, and they are more prone to acquiring substance use disorders. Adolescents suffering from addiction may have a history of abuse or trauma. The adults in the young addicts’ lives may need to protect them from further misuse.

Family involvement and family therapy are vital for teenagers, especially if the adolescent hopes to return home after treatment. Drug addiction is a family disease which affects everyone, and everyone needs to improve their coping abilities for complete recovery.

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Help for Fentanyl: Found Here

Fentanyl addiction treatment can be highly successful for those who need help recovering from an overdose, going through withdrawal, and stopping their drug abuse. NIDA states those who seek treatment often fare far better than individuals who do not get professional help for addiction. However, there is always a threat of relapse associated with an addiction to a drug as strong as fentanyl.

This is why it is important to choose the right rehab program by finding a facility that offers the care you require. When you call 877-959-7271, we can help you locate these programs and get you into treatment now!