Fentanyl is a synthetic pharmaceutical drug that comes in the form of an opioid pain reliever, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is usually prescribed to relieve severe pain, such as during cancer treatment or after back surgery.
Since the popularity of fentanyl exploded on the scene a few years ago, the overdose rates have skyrocketed across the nation. Although it is known to be highly addictive and commonly abused, people still don’t know exactly what is fentanyl.
Fentanyl use blocks the pain receptors and increases the production of dopamine, which is the chemical that controls the reward/happiness signals to the brain. Fentanyl street names are China white, china girl, TNT, crush, dance fever, and Apache.
If you think you might have a problem with fentanyl, you might be correct. Fentanyl is, in fact, a potent opioid that can lead to addiction quickly. If you abuse fentanyl, you might already be addicted to it due to its incredibly high potency.
If you take fentanyl for a legitimate medical reason, according to the directions of your doctor, you might become dependent on it and addicted, as long as you continue to follow the instructions of the prescription strictly.
Fentanyl is a pain medication is used for very severe pain, in which people who have become tolerant to other opioid medications. It is used for breakthrough pain — episodes of pain that occur even if severe pain is taken care of in a consistent manner.
Fentanyl that is taken by mouth is used no more than four times per day.
The transdermal patch is replaced approximately every 72 hours, and it should only be used when a patient requires 24/7 medication to deal with pain. You can only receive a prescription for the fentanyl patch if your pain cannot be treated with anything else.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) does not have data for everyone who uses fentanyl, but this is what we know about overdoses so far.
Campus Drug Prevention, an initiative by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), says that fentanyl-laced cocaine is a particular concern across college campuses today. If you use any illicit drug, there is the possibility that it is laced with fentanyl.
Yes, fentanyl is one of the more well-known synthetic opioids because of the extensive research that’s been done. It is one of the only substances that is approved for prescription use. Fentanyl was discovered in the 1960s and was only used for surgery. Its clinical use was expanded in the 90s when the skin patch was developed for extended relief of chronic pain.
Synthetic opioids are categorized as psychoactive substances that are known as opiates or produce opiate-like effects. These substances are not naturally occurring, although they get effects similar to naturally occurring drugs from different types of opium poppy plants. These plants are used by humans for recreational and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Some well-known opiates like heroin and morphine are formed from these plants.
Commonly referred to as a fentanyl lollipop, it is administered under the tongue for quick pain relief. This form is used for patients who were already taking painkiller medication and have some military applications.
Coming in the form of a fentanyl patch, this type of fentanyl is prescribed to treat severe to moderate pain, with the effects lasting as long as three days.
This form is generally administered in hospitals, usually alongside anesthetics, and is taken through an injectable form. This form of fentanyl is used to manage pain before and after surgery.
This form of fentanyl is a sublingual spray that is administered under an individual’s tongue to deliver pain relief immediately. Its purpose use is for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain.
Abstral is primarily used for opioid-tolerant patients who experience breakthrough cancer pain. This is a fentanyl pill form of a tablet that dissolves quickly by being placed under the tongue.
This form of fentanyl comes in a nasal spray, which is primarily used with cancer patients needing to treat their pain.
Fentanyl was invented in a laboratory and was created to be between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine, another well-known pain-relieving narcotic.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It does not come from the opium plant, like heroin and other opioids do.
To relieve pain, fentanyl interacts with the nervous system and brain to change how it responds to pain signals.
It is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means you can only use it with a prescription and precisely as directed.
When used under medical supervision, fentanyl is safe and effective. Despite this, it carries an incredibly high potential for misuse and can be habit-forming.
Of the many risks of misusing fentanyl, death is the most severe outcome. It is common in cases of fentanyl overdose if help is not received quickly enough.
Fentanyl is also a significant cause of overdose deaths relating to other drugs as it gets laced into the mix. Drug deals produce illegal batches of fentanyl and use it to strengthen their supply.
Many users are not aware that their heroin, for example, contains any amount of fentanyl. This, in return, elevates the risk of a severe overdose.
Medical News Today says that fentanyl was first abused in the 1970s. Sometimes, it is misused by people who obtain legal fentanyl and provide it to people who do not have a prescription.
Fentanyl patches are known to have traces of the drug that can still have effects on people, and some people may resort to using these. The most common ways people misuse fentanyl patches are by taking what is left on them and then injecting, snorting, or smoking it. In some instances, they just place the remaining fentanyl under their tongue.
Fentanyl usage harbors a massive risk for abuse and addiction regardless of it being given in the prescription form. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has given warnings that a fentanyl epidemic may develop due to the potency and addictiveness of the substance.
Individuals abuse fentanyl at higher levels than prescribed to experience intense euphoria and relaxation. This is similar to the effects of a heroin high.
Abusing fentanyl becomes especially dangerous for individuals who do not have a tolerance to opioids. Fentanyl, which already comes with an elevated risk of overdose, becomes multiplied when an individual without a tolerance starts abusing it.
Abusing fentanyl will depress the respiratory system to the point of failure, which will lead to a fatal overdose.
To mix fentanyl with other drugs like cocaine or heroin will amplify the drug’s adverse side effects. In fact, illicitly produced fentanyl is often used as an additive to other drugs to increase potency. Users are often unaware and therefore, have a greater risk of overdose
Whether abused recreationally or taken as a prescription, fentanyl is very volatile and can be a highly potential lethal drug. You should only use fentanyl as prescribed by your doctor.
If you have a history of addiction it is best to discuss this with your doctor regarding the use of fentanyl. Individuals that have previously struggled with substance abuse are at a far greater risk of developing a fentanyl dependence.
Some fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will include:
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms make users very uncomfortable and sick. Their cravings to use fentanyl will worsen as they become desperate to make the withdrawal symptoms stop. Fortunately, though, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be reduced or avoided for the individuals that are willing to accept help from a fentanyl addiction detox treatment program.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms in the initial period after stopping usage will be more physical. From there, the psychological symptoms will kick in.
Due to its short half-life of roughly 4 hours, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms usually start within 2 to 4 hours of the last dose. This may take longer for individuals who are using fentanyl patches, which is a slower release delivery system. In this case, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will primarily start within a 24 to 36 hour period of removing the patch.
The length of the fentanyl detox process is hard to predict because everybody will experience a different variety and range of symptoms. Primarily though, withdrawal symptoms will taper off and cease to exist after 5 to 10 days in most cases.
The fentanyl withdrawal timeline will usually follow a general pattern, but there are also specific factors that will affect each patient’s level of withdrawal.
Some individuals will develop symptoms that will last well beyond the acute withdrawal timeline. These are known as protracted withdrawal symptoms, which could last weeks and sometimes months.
Many treatments are available for the misuse of fentanyl. Mayo Clinic explains that even if you are not intentionally misusing fentanyl, you may have become dependent on it. You should slowly decrease your dose until you can live without it.
You should never try to quit taking fentanyl cold turkey without consulting your doctor. They will likely recommend tapering off it. This is a controlled way to lower your dose that can decrease the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal.
The detox process typically lasts 5 to 7 days but may be extended up to 10 or more in some cases. Some patients will need more or less time, as detox will be unique for each person. A thorough evaluation during the intake process will help to determine the outcome of the length of time needed for a detox.
The detox process will be performed in a specialized substance abuse treatment center. The detox process can be done either in a residential program or an outpatient program, depending on the specific needs of the patient. In a residential facility, detox is referred to as medical detox, due to its inclusion of medical and mental health support provided by treatment professionals giving around the clock service.
The patient’s vital signs will be monitored to ensure their safety, and medications are often administered to help with emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms. Residential detox programs are highly recommended for fentanyl withdrawal because it’s such a powerful opioid.
In some cases, fentanyl will be replaced by a different opioid agonist during the detox process. Combination medications may also be used for post-detox after fentanyl, and all other opioids are entirely flushed out of the system. Supplementary medications are also helpful during medical detox.
If your physician feels this is necessary, you may be prescribed medication that can help you avoid symptoms of withdrawal and make the transition to a drug-free lifestyle.
Medical detox is exceptionally beneficial in helping to safely and smoothly remove fentanyl from the system and get back to a healthy physical balance. Detox followed with a substance-abuse treatment program that engages in both pharmaceutical and therapeutic tools, cravings, and other different psychological and behavioral symptoms of addiction and substance abuse will be managed and improved on a long-term basis.
Inpatient recovery programs are also referred to as residential treatment and require patients to check themselves into a supervised environment to overcome their addiction. Patients will stay at a treatment facility with round-the-clock medical and emotional support. During inpatient treatment, the residents can focus entirely on getting sober without any negative distractions of daily life. A typical day in residential treatment will be scheduled activities and therapy sessions throughout the day.
Psychiatrist, counselors, and psychologists will meet with family individually and then in group settings to help guide the residents through the inpatient recovery program. A standard inpatient program will run between 28 days to six months at times.
The first step, once checked into inpatient treatment, will be to receive a medically assisted detox. The addiction specialists and physicians will monitor the patient’s vital signs while going through the process. Drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms may arise during detox, which is challenging to overcome and could lead to relapse. Therefore, constant medical care will be provided during inpatient treatment to help guard against cravings to relapse.
Treatment staff will be able to provide the necessary medicine and medical expertise to calm the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Each program will offer a therapist that can help individuals overcome fentanyl addiction.
Outpatient rehab programs are less restrictive than inpatient treatment programs. An outpatient recovery program will usually be 10 to 12 hours per week spent visiting the rehab treatment center.
Outpatient drug rehab is an excellent standalone option for individuals with a mild addiction or added as a phase of a long-term treatment plan. Outpatient rehab treatment programs last roughly 3 to 6 months and, in some cases, up to a year.
Outpatient rehab treatment programs will give recovering addicts the freedom to remain at home during the treatment process. Individuals undergoing outpatient drug rehab are able to continue working and stay close to friends and family members. Inpatient treatment centers will conduct meetings in the early morning or at night to help program members maintain their regular schedules.
The patients with mild to moderate substance withdrawal symptoms will find outpatient detox a more suitable alternative to inpatient detox. Outpatient detox is both safe and effective and takes less time to complete than residential detox. Doctors and clinicians may administer medications to help ease with drawl symptoms like depression, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Each program will offer a therapist that can help individuals overcome fentanyl addiction.
Psychological treatment can address underlying issues that may have led you to misuse fentanyl. Therapy options include:
This consists of needle exchange programs and safe injection sites that encourage people to test their opioid sources. This approach accepts that some people aren’t yet ready to abstain from drug use altogether, so it aims to mitigate the harm caused by it.
Harm reduction can prevent infections or transmissions of diseases such as HIV or other blood-borne pathogens. If opioids test positive for fentanyl, many people will opt not to take the drug due to the high potential for a fatal overdose.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that treatment must be tailored to your unique needs to be effective. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone.
Your treatment team will build a plan that makes sense for your particular fentanyl addiction. This plan will likely change as you progress in recovery.
Don’t let another day pass where you or a loved one is experiencing a fentanyl addiction. Here at Footprints to Recovery, we know how overwhelming it can be to consider reaching out for treatment but rest assured that by doing so, you’re making a decision that will potentially be lifesaving. Our facility provides top-of-the-line addiction treatment that will not only help you or a loved one become sober but also encourage full physical, mental and spiritual growth making long-term recovery possible.
Our team at Footprints to Recovery can help end addictive behaviors and tendencies and introduce a happy, healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.