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Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment

Fentanyl is prescribed to those who have a tolerance to other opioids. It is 30-50 times stronger than heroin, making the potential for Fentanyl addiction exceptionally high.

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Fentanyl Addiction

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What Is Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, a man-made drug designed to mimic the effects of natural opiates like heroin and opium. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is prescribed to treat severe pain after surgery or during cancer treatment.

The drug is available in several forms and under many different brand names. It can be administered by injection, as a patch, and in the form of a sublingual tablet.

Affects of Fentanyl on the Brain

Medical professionals prescribe Fentanyl to patients suffering from chronic pain or flare-ups of unbearable pain despite ongoing narcotic treatment, called breakthrough pain. The substance behaves similarly to heroin and morphine by working with the brain’s opioid receptors. The opioid centers are areas in the brain that manage pain and emotions.

The brain works by binding Fentanyl to the opioid receptors, causing dopamine levels in the brain to increase and induce euphoria, relaxation, and contentment. The effects of Fentanyl come on rapidly but are short-lived, generally lasting only one to two hours.

Fentanyl harbors a massive addiction potential because of its strength and pharmacology, whether sourced legally or illegally.

Signs of Addiction to Fentanyl

Signs and symptoms of Fentanyl addiction include, but are not limited to:
  • A desire to stop or reduce Fentanyl use, but failing
  • A large amount of time, money, and effort spent getting Fentanyl
  • Urges or cravings for Fentanyl
  • Being unable to meet obligations at work, school, or home
  • Becoming isolated and withdrawn
  • Putting themselves and others at risk when using or sourcing the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug despite its psychological and physical effects
  • Sleeping for prolonged hours
  • Weight gain
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions
  • Depression and mental health problems
  • Exhibiting withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, shaking, and confusion

Who Abuses Fentanyl

Drug dealers often mix Fentanyl with other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA. It takes very little Fentanyl to produce a high, making it a cheap filler. This practice is hazardous. Most people taking recreational drugs don’t suspect they might contain Fentanyl and will rapidly become addicted.

Side-Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

Those battling a Fentanyl addiction ingest uncontrolled doses of Fentanyl to achieve an intense euphoric high that resembles a heroin high. However, the high is short-lived, with adverse side effects.

Even when used as prescribed, Fentanyl side-effects can include:
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Coldness
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Itching
  • Decreased libido
  • Agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Fentanyl and Alcohol

A Fentanyl overdose occurs when an individual takes too much Fentanyl or mixes it with illicit narcotics like heroin or alcohol. A Fentanyl overdose is more likely when the individual abuses substances and abuse remains untreated.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Withdrawing from Fentanyl without the proper support or supervision is not an easy task. When stopping the drug, the individual concerned will likely experience painful Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

For the best outcomes, it is wise to seek out an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation center. Choosing to enroll in an inpatient program with a rehab center will ensure the individual is safe and comfortable throughout the Fentanyl detox and withdrawal process. A proper inpatient treatment center will support the individual holistically.

Detox from Fentanyl

Detox from Fentanyl is the first step in a treatment program. Medical detox from Fentanyl usually involves tapering down the dosage of the drug, while managing withdrawal symptoms. Fentanyl detox can be very uncomfortable, and even dangerous, and should only be done under the supervision of a medical professional.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Once the drug is removed from the body, opioid withdrawal syndrome can begin as the brain struggles to restore balance. Physically, the symptoms may be flu-like, and psychological symptoms may be intense and unpleasant.

Symptoms of Fentanyl withdrawal include :
  • Chills and fever
  • Sweating
  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, runny nose, and tearing eyes
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Often, medication will be administered to manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This medication helps make withdrawal a bit easier on the patient, and also reduces the risk of relapse. This is why it is vital that Fentanyl withdrawal and detox is only done in a registered rehab center under a qualified medical clinician’s care.

Therapies Used for Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

In addition to medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation and its ensuing therapies are recommended for recovery from Fentanyl addiction.

As an inpatient, the Fentanyl addict will receive a range of specialized treatment programs, including individual and group therapy, and other holistic treatments. Any co-occurring mental disorders will also be treated, and the center will get to the root of the individual’s addiction.

In addition to this, the patient will learn coping strategies for life outside of the rehab. In most cases, ongoing therapy is needed as an outpatient, in order to prevent relapse and ensure the patient remains supported by like-minded individuals.

Therapies commonly used in treating Fentanyl addiction include:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is widely used in addiction treatment. These sessions will help the patient identify their triggers, develop tools to cope with negative thoughts, and overcome the behavioral patterns that can influence addiction.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: DBT was first developed to treat patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and other mental illnesses of a similar nature. When used for addiction recovery, DBT helps the patient manage their emotions, behavior, and surroundings. The focus of DBT is to help the patient remove triggers, boost self-esteem, and manage stress in order to maintain sobriety.
  • 12 Step Programs: After the 12 Step Program’s success, created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, many other drug addiction support groups adopted their ethos. The 12 Steps are usually based on spiritual or religious principles and foster a feeling of support and accountability in the recovering addict.

Recovery from Fentanyl Addiction

Recovery is possible when followed by a substance abuse treatment program that uses therapeutic and pharmaceutical tools. The cravings and other negative psychological and behavioral symptoms of substance abuse will be improved and managed on a long-term basis as long as they adhere to the treatment program.

For the right treatment program to help you get you or your loved one’s life back on track, get in touch with us today. One of our qualified treatment navigators will guide you to the right rehab center and treatment program for your individual needs.

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