Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, roughly 100 times more potent than morphine. It is often prescribed to treat severe pain in cancer patients, particularly those with end-stage diseases who cannot find relief from other narcotics.
Fentanyl comes in several forms including lollipops and transdermal patches for people who may have trouble swallowing. Fentanyl is used to treat chronic pain over extended periods of time. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly popular as an illegal recreational drug due to its intense high and availability on the black market.
The Dangers of Fentanyl Addiction
Because fentanyl is so powerful, even a very small amount can cause serious harm or death if not taken properly and under the direction of a physician. Overdoses often occur when the individual takes too much of the drug or mixes it with other substances like alcohol, marijuana other opioids or benzodiazepines.
The combination creates a dangerous reaction in the body’s central nervous system, which can result in slowed breathing, dangerously low blood pressure and even cardiac arrest. In more recent years, fentanyl and carfentanil have been showing up in street heroin seized by the DEA with increasing regularity.
The Dangers of Fentanyl Addiction Include:
Increased likelihood of fatal overdose due to potency
Failure to reverse an OD when NARCAN dose is insufficient
Developing a heroin addiction with prescription fentanyl cannot be found
Fentanyl Addiction and the Rise in Overdose Deaths
Authorities believe this is a major contributor to the rise in opioid overdose deaths in recent years. Fentanyl can be deadly in doses as small as 0.25 milligrams. This makes it extremely difficult to control the dose and that potency contributes to overdose deaths because people who mix fentanyl with heroin or other street drugs can very easily use too much of the drug.
The end user has no way of verifying if fentanyl is present or how much is there. The habit of some heroin users to chase whatever brand of heroin is purported to be the strongest at any given time only makes the problem worse. Sadly the rate of overdoses with a particular batch is one of the metrics those addicted to heroin often use to determine what the strongest brand on the street is.
No Amount of Fentanyl is Safe for Recreational Use
Contrary to popular belief, no minimum amount of fentanyl is required to develop an addiction. Use of fentanyl for a longer period of time does, however, increase the likelihood of fentanyl addiction. People develop fentanyl addiction in a number of ways.
People with severe chronic pain or terminal illness may be prescribed fentanyl and find they need to use more to get the same effect. Once they exhaust their supply of legal fentanyl they may turn to the street for more.
Others may develop an addiction to fentanyl unintentionally by taking fake opioid prescription tablets, heroin or other drugs bought off the street. Fentanyl is extremely powerful and thanks to illegal manufacture using precursors smuggled in from other countries, it is also cheap.
This means it turns up in all sorts of illicit drugs, not just opioids. It has been found in alleged MDMA or “molly” too. All of the same dangers associated with addiction to other opioids apply to fentanyl, except the clock is usually running even faster, due to the extreme potency of the drug.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
In the absence of the drug or a suitable alternative, eventually psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms will appear, usually peaking within 72 hours from the last dose.
Psychological symptoms of fentanyl addiction include:
Physical symptoms of fentanyl addiction include:
Effects of Fentanyl Use or Abuse
Opioids act upon the brain’s natural reward pathways. While they have legitimate uses to control pain, their action on the brain’s ‘pleasure chemicals’ also makes it incredibly easy to become addicted to them and fentanyl is surely no exception.
Although the brain receives happy hormones from other activities like music, food, and sex, drugs like fentanyl offer a rapid onset of euphoria. When fentanyl is repeatedly taken, the brain acclimatizes to this, craving it despite any adverse effects.
Long-term effects and dangers of fentanyl abuse can include:
The Special Risks of Fentanyl Overdose
Fentanyl is very easy to overdose on due to its extreme potency. The fact that it is increasingly found in street heroin, fake painkiller tablets and even “molly” has caused the fentanyl addiction and overdose rates in the U.S. to skyrocket over the past 10 years.
Naloxone (NARCAN) can usually reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if used promptly and according to directions. However, the potency of fentanyl can limit the effectiveness of this life saving medication.
In the case of a fentanyl overdose, more than one dose of NARCAN is often required for paramedics to revive a patient successfully. Sometimes even that is not enough. There are no guarantees that NARCAN will save your life, especially if you have knowingly or unknowingly used fentanyl. In the event of a suspected opioid overdose, call 911 immediately and prepare to administer NARCAN according to directions if you have access to it.
Street heroin frequently has an unknown amount of fentanyl in it.
Other street drugs, including fake pills and “molly” often have fentanyl in them.
NARCAN is less effective against fentanyl overdose than other opioids.
There is NO safe amount of fentanyl for recreational use.
Can Treatment Cure Fentanyl Addiction?
Fentanyl addiction treatment is not a cure. There is not, as of yet, a cure for addiction. However, a medically-assisted fentanyl detox followed by residential addiction treatment and a solid aftercare plan that includes 12-step recovery or an alternative offers the best chance of long-term recovery for you or the person you love.
As part of addiction treatment, those in recovery usually attend therapy to understand the factors that contribute to addiction. Often fentanyl addiction develops, in part, due to trauma or mental illness, but everyone is different. During treatment, behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people uncover their bad habits and turn them into good habits, gaining the necessary skills for a life in recovery.
Recovery from Fentanyl Addiction
At NP Addiction Clinic
, successful recovery is only a phone call away. We are always open, and we accept most private insurance plans that can cover your entire cost of treatment. A life in recovery is within reach and we can help you achieve it.
Contact us today:
24/7 Helpline: (888) 574-3506