What is Fentanyl?
Table of Contents
- What is Fentanyl?
- Understanding Fentanyl Addiction
- A Brief History of Opioid Addiction in the U.S.
- Risks for Developing an Addiction
- What are the Signs of Fentanyl Abuse?
- How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?
- The Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
- Treating Fentanyl Overdose
- Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
- What is Fentanyl Addiction Treatment?
- Identifying the Top Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Centers
- Payment Options for Professional Addiction Treatment
- Find a Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Center Near You, Here!
- Medically Reviewed By
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that was pharmaceutically developed to treat severe pain in cancer patients. The spread of the drug has made finding a ‘fentanyl detox near me’ a top priority across the United States.
When taking regularly prescribed doses, fentanyl can be an effective painkiller. In fact, it is believed to be 80-100 times stronger than morphine. However, it is this strength that also makes this drug particularly dangerous.
Unfortunately, this prescription painkiller is heavily subject to abuse, as its pain-relieving properties can also produce a euphoric high that, for some, might be hard to resist.
Understanding Fentanyl Addiction
Because fentanyl is such a strong drug, it does not take long to become addicted to it. This is highly problematic, especially when considering that, in many cases, individuals develop fentanyl dependence accidentally.
This is due to the fact that many drug dealers sell fentanyl disguised as or mixed in with other substances in order to gain a higher profit, at the expense of their unaware customers’ safety.
Even small amounts of fentanyl can be extremely dangerous, meaning unmeasured quantities may be downright deadly. Thus, individuals unknowingly ingesting fentanyl are not only increasing their chances of addiction but also of suffering an accidental overdose.
A Brief History of Opioid Addiction in the U.S.
Originally widely used in the late 1990s after pharmaceutical companies assured they would not cause addiction, opioids were commonly administered as a means of treating moderate to severe pain.
However, they were quickly replaced with other medications after they rapidly began to be abused both by those with and without a prescription for them. Unfortunately, even after their medical usage decrease, these drugs had already established a permanent presence within the U.S..
This presence remains just as prominent and problematic today. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost fifty thousand cases of opioid-related overdose deaths occurred in 2019 alone.
And, with the recent upswing in cases of fentanyl addiction and overdose in the past few years, this so-called opioid epidemic only appears to be getting worse.
Risks for Developing an Addiction
As with most forms of substance abuse, people struggling with fentanyl addiction typically develop this dependency as a result of external issues.
There are several risk factors that may increase an individual’s likelihood of developing a fentanyl abuse disorder, including:
- Mental Illness
- Environmental Factors
- Social Pressure
- Increased Stress
Simultaneous mental health and substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders, are quite common in the U.S.. This is mostly due to the fact that many individuals will turn to the use of drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate difficult thoughts and feelings.
However, this is rarely effective, nor is it a permanent solution. In fact, substance abuse can actually exacerbate or trigger the development of certain mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.
Living in unstable environments can also significantly increase an individual’s likelihood of developing an addiction, as they may turn to substance use as a means of coping with this imbalance.
These environments may include spaces such as abusive, neglectful, or extremely strict households, communities that foster a heavy drug culture, or unhealthy relationships, whether they be familial, romantic, or otherwise.
Peer pressure can be a significant risk factor for an individual’s engagement with illicit substances. This is particularly true for younger populations, as social acceptance is often a key factor in their personal development.
Thus, if a person surrounds themselves with individuals who regularly partake in and encourage addictive behaviors, they are significantly more likely to also develop these habits.
Regularly experiencing excess stress levels can be extremely difficult for a person to cope with. Unfortunately, this may lead to their turning to drugs or alcohol to help manage this pressure, or increase their performance levels.
These stress factors may relate to having a high-demand job, familial and relationship pressures, or unresolved traumatic or past difficult experiences.
What are the Signs of Fentanyl Abuse?
Opioids are one of the most dangerous substances you can develop an addiction to, with fentanyl being one of the most destructive variants of these drugs.
Thus, with the recent rise of fentanyl use in the U.S., it is crucial to know how to recognize the signs of addiction, whether this be in yourself or a loved one. Signs you or someone else is struggling with fentanyl abuse may include:
- Needing to consistently increase the amount of fentanyl taken to achieve the same high.
- Experiencing drug cravings or withdrawal symptoms when not using fentanyl.
- Preoccupation or obsession with obtaining and using fentanyl, often disrupting other activities and responsibilities.
- Not being able to quit using fentanyl on one’s own, even if you want to do so.
- Experiencing a breakdown in relationships or interest in social activities due to an inability to stop using.
- Continuing to use fentanyl despite negative consequences.
- Engaging in risky or illegal activity in order to obtain and use fentanyl.
How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?
Fentanyl, like other opioids, works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for the regulation of an individual’s pain and emotions.
When this interaction occurs, it can lead to significant pain relief, as well as produce feelings of euphoria and extreme relaxation. It is these feelings that typically lead to an individual’s continued abuse of this substance.
However, using fentanyl can produce several other side effects as well, of which may be far more unpleasant and dangerous in nature.
Apart from its more pleasant side effects, short-term usage of fentanyl can also produce a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Urinary retention
- Constricted pupils
- Dry Mouth
Other Possible Side Effects
There are several less common side effects of fentanyl use that people have reported experiencing. However, while not as common, these can still be incredibly problematic if not properly addressed.
These additional side effects of fentanyl use may include:
- Peeing less frequently
- Feeling cold
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Chest pains
- Coughing up blood
- Trouble with voluntary movement
- Stinging skin
- Throat irritation
- Kidney damage
- Eczema or other skin irritation
- Bloating or swelling
- Hallucinations (usually auditory)
The Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to take too much fentanyl, as this drug is commonly ingested unknowingly. This excess consumption of fentanyl will result in overdose, of which can quickly become lethal if not immediately medically treated.
Severe symptoms indicating fentanyl overdose may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Limp body
- Dilation or retraction of the pupils
- Cold and clammy skin
- Blue-tinted lips and fingernails
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Poor or complete loss of consciousness
Treating Fentanyl Overdose
When it comes to treating a fentanyl-related overdose, this process can be particularly tricky. After all, it is extremely common for this drug to be mixed with other substances, thus making accurately addressing this already difficult problem even more so.
In most cases, a medication called Naloxone will be used to treat a fentanyl overdose, which will be immediately administered to the individual. This medication rapidly binds to opioid receptors and blocks the effects of opioid drugs.
Unfortunately, because fentanyl is so strong, it can take multiple doses of this medication to effectively combat this opioid. Because this process is so time-dependent, it is important that if you suspect someone is overdosing on fentanyl that you immediately call 911.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Out of all of the various forms of substance abuse, opioids have one of the most intense withdrawal periods. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be particularly dangerous, and even lethal if not managed correctly.
These will vary in severity depending on several factors, including the extent of a person’s addiction, the existence of any underlying medical conditions, or co-occurring mental health disorders.
The physical symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be particularly uncomfortable, and may even feel downright unbearable to the individuals going through this process. Some of the physical health effects that may occur during this period include:
- Muscle weakness
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite and stomach cramps, which may cause anorexia
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
- Restlessness and insomnia
- Excessive yawning
- Pupil dilation
- Muscle and joint pain
Unfortunately, many people do not realize how difficult fentanyl withdrawal can be, particularly when it comes to the psychological symptoms this process can produce.
However, in many cases, it is the mental symptoms that make staying off this drug so difficult. Some of the most common psychological symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:
- Mood swings
- Drug cravings
What is Fentanyl Addiction Treatment?
It is strongly encouraged that individuals seek out professional drug addiction treatment services when attempting to overcome substance abuse. Unfortunately, attempting to recover from addiction on one’s own is rarely ever effective, and can actually be incredibly dangerous.
When it comes to fentanyl addiction, control over this habit does not come easily. In fact, it may even feel impossible without the right recovery support and tools. Luckily, there are several addiction treatment programs and options available to recovering addicts today.
These may include:
Finding a Fentanyl Detox Near Me: The Need for Medical Detox
Many individuals who are going through intense withdrawal periods will need to undergo a medically supervised detox program. This may include alcohol withdrawal periods, or those of an opioid or benzos addiction, as these can be lethal if not properly treated.
When overcoming fentanyl addiction, individuals will usually be encouraged to participate in a medical detox process. This is due to how intense fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be, often requiring extensive structure and support to effectively manage them.
The fentanyl detoxification experience will typically consist of an individual being gradually weaned off of the abused substance, in order to allow for an easier recovery process. This will take place under the constant supervision of medical and clinical professionals.
Individuals will also likely be given a personalized diet during their medical detox process, in order to help their body re-regulate without the use of fentanyl.
Furthermore, medical detox services will sometimes include the administration of specific medications designed to help manage and prevent more intense fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. While this may not necessarily make detox totally without discomfort, it can certainly make it easier.
After their participation in fentanyl detox services, many individuals may be encouraged to transition into recovering at inpatient or residential addiction rehab treatment centers.
Participating in a residential fentanyl rehab program can provide the structure and support a person needs to effectively overcome substance abuse.
When receiving treatment at an inpatient recovery center, individuals will live at a rehab facility full-time. This stay will typically include constant access to addiction specialists and resources.
Furthermore, many inpatient treatment programs may also provide fentanyl detoxification as a part of their continuum of care services.
Seeking care at an outpatient addiction treatment center may be a favorable option for those who can not meet the time commitment a residential rehab center may require.
This may include partial hospitalization for those who feel they still need access to medical treatment, or intensive outpatient programs for those who desire more regular access to treatment advisors and medical professionals.
Outpatient fentanyl rehab programs may also incorporate therapeutic practices into their treatment approach. These can help individuals identify the underlying causes of their addiction, and better adjust to independent sober living.
For many individuals, their addiction issues do not end once they leave a recovery center. Rather, this is usually just the first step in a life-long process to maintaining their sobriety.
In fact, many people who have previously overcome fentanyl addiction return to treatment soon after. This is because these individuals did not continue to make proactive steps in their recovery journey after their initial addiction treatment.
Thus, many addiction recovery services and treatment advisors today will recommend that clients participate in aftercare and relapse prevention programs. These may include several services dedicated to helping individuals maintain their sobriety, such as:
- Community outreach programs
- 12-step or non-12 step alternative recovery programs
- Therapeutic services (i.e., behavioral therapy)
Identifying the Top Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Centers
There are quite a few variables that should be considered when determining what treatment facilities are best for helping you to overcome fentanyl addiction.
While each recovery center will have its own perks and treatment specializations, it is important to find one that can accurately cater to your personal care needs.
The most highly respected programs for substance abuse treatment will generally have these qualities:
- Evidence-Based Treatment Approach
- Comprehensive Care
- Qualified Staff
- External Accreditation
- Personalized Treatment Options
Evidence-Based Treatment Approach
While more holistic or spiritual approaches can certainly be helpful additions to a person’s recovery process, treatment options founded on scientific research and clinical studies are essential for effective addiction treatment.
Thus, the prioritization of evidence-based approaches to recovery from addiction is one of the best indicators of a high-quality recovery center.
Treatment centers that can provide a continuum of care and integrate various approaches to addiction treatment are also those that often rank amongst the top recovery centers.
This may include services dedicated to treating co-occurring psychiatric disorders or other medical problems that typically accompany addiction, such as HIV or Hepatitis C. This may also include fentanyl detox (or generalized medical detox) programs.
A rehab center featuring multi-disciplinary treatment advisors and staff can ensure that clients have access to a diverse array of addiction treatment resources and support.
Furthermore, a high-quality recovery center will employ individuals who are properly licensed and certified in their specializations. This may include those trained in addiction treatment, behavioral therapy, or other counseling services.
A rehab center that has received accreditation from external regulatory organizations, such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and other programs, will be among the most highly respected programs for addiction treatment.
These licenses and accreditations prove that these facilities adhere to the highest national clinical standards for safety and quality of care in their addiction treatment approach.
Personalized Treatment Options
Thus, high-quality addiction treatment programs will treat their clients as individuals, offering personalized treatment plans and recovery options.
At these recovery centers, clients will, with the help of their medical team, determine a treatment plan that best suits their specific care needs. This will ultimately offer the most efficient route to their successful recovery from addiction.
Payment Options for Professional Addiction Treatment
One problem that many people find themselves concerned about is their ability to afford treatment costs. Fortunately, there are several payment options available to those seeking professional addiction treatment services.
A majority of addiction treatment programs, even those considered to be top-tier, will accept most major insurance providers. Generally, most insurance policies cover detox services, inpatient treatment, and medication-assisted addiction treatment.
Of course, the level of coverage you are entitled to will depend on your specific health insurance plan. If you are unsure of what treatment options your insurance covers, you can use the Find Addiction Rehabs fast and free insurance verification tool to find out today!
Find a Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Center Near You, Here!
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, whether it be to fentanyl or any other substance, know that you are not alone, and help IS available.
Taking that first step can seem hard; but it doesn’t have to be. Just by calling our 24/7 hotline, one of our representatives can get you started on a path to addiction recovery and long-term sobriety today!
Brandon is a highly skilled content writer and behavioral health marketer with over a decade of experience. In his own words: in my work with Find Addiction Rehabs, I have dedicated my expertise to a cause close to my heart – substance abuse recovery. Through my passion for the field, I’ve successfully compiled a track record of crafting compelling content that educates, inspires, and supports those on their recovery journeys.