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Fentanyl Addiction Rehabilitation Help

If you think you might have a problem with fentanyl, you might be correct. Fentanyl is in fact a very powerful opioid that can lead to addiction quickly. If you abuse fentanyl, you might already be addicted to it due to its incredibly high potency.

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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 closely follow the directions of the prescription.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a pain medication used for very severe cases. It is for people who have become tolerant to other opioid medications, and it is used for breakthrough pain — episodes of pain that occur even if severe pain is taken care of in a consistent manner.

It is available in the following formats:
  • Buccal, as Fentora, which is a film put between the cheek and gums
  • Lozenges, as Actiq
  • Film, as Onsolis
  • Sublingual film, as Abstral
  • Transdermal patches, as Duragesic

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.

How Fentanyl Works

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.

Fentanyl was invented in a laboratory. It was created to be between 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine, another well-known pain-relieving narcotic.

In order 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 with a prescription and exactly as directed.

When used under medical supervision, fentanyl has been found to be safe and effective. Despite this, it carries an incredibly high potential for misuse and can be habit-forming.

Signs of Misuse

Medical News Today says that fentanyl was first abused in the 1970s. Sometimes, it is misused by people who divert legitimately sourced 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.

Additional sources of fentanyl can be misused as well. Mayo Clinic provides other signs of drug misuse to look out for in yourself or others.
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Buying the drug even if you do not have enough money
  • Foregoing responsibilities at work, school, or in your relationships to use drugs instead
  • Skipping social or family gatherings to use fentanyl
  • Needing more fentanyl to reach the desired effect
  • Using the medication in ways it is not intended, such as snorting or injecting it
  • Trying to quit but being unable to
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you do not use regularly
Other signs of misuse are:
  • Sudden financial issues or requests to borrow money that seem unreasonable.
  • Haggard appearance and lack of hygiene.
  • Changes in health, such as sudden weight gain or loss, bloodshot eyes, or constant fatigue.
  • Moodiness or different behavior, such as becoming more secretive or trying to prevent family or friends from entering one’s home or room.

People who misuse fentanyl might also refer to it by its street names, such as Tango, Apache, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, Dance Fever, and Cash, among others.

Risks of Fentanyl Misuse

Of the many risks of misusing fentanyl, death is the most serious outcome. It is common in cases of fentanyl overdose if help is not received quickly enough.

Fentanyl is also a major cause for overdose deaths relating to other drugs as it gets laced into the mix. Many users are not aware that their heroin for example contains any amount of fentanyl. This in return elevates the risk of a serious overdose.

Other risks are:
  • Dependence or addiction. Consistent use of fentanyl causes your body to tolerate and depend on it to continue functioning. Your brain eventually gets used to functioning with it, making you less likely to feel its effects with your regular dose. This facilitates addiction as you start to crave fentanyl when you are not taking it.
  • Aftereffects or accidents caused by misuse. The drug can induce drowsiness, which makes it dangerous to drive or operate machinery. Loss of consciousness, respiratory issues, and confusion can also occur.
  • Infections at injection sites for people who misuse fentanyl in this manner. A 2017 case study published on the International Journal of Drug Policy explains that injecting drugs into your body can lead to infections, blood clots (thrombosis), harmful bacteria or microorganisms that could cause shock or become fatal (sepsis), or inflammation of the endocardium. This is the part of the heart that lines the chambers.
  • Overdose, which occurs if too much fentanyl is taken and its symptoms pose a threat to your life. Fentanyl overdose can be treated with naloxone, but several doses of this antidote may be necessary because fentanyl is much stronger than other opioids.

Treatment for Fentanyl Misuse

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 and need to 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.
Tapering involves the following steps:
  • Talk to your doctor about the best way to taper your dosage.
  • Undergo blood or urine testing to gauge how much fentanyl is in your system.
  • Get a prescription for medications that can help you deal with withdrawal or other health issues as you taper off fentanyl. Most often, you will be switched from fentanyl to buprenorphine or methadone, and then, you’ll taper off that replacement medication.

Addiction is chronic condition, and no two cases are the same. Treatment approaches include:

  • Harm reduction. 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 would opt not to take the drug due to the high potential for fatal overdose.
  • Therapy. Psychological treatment can address underlying issues that may have led you to misuse fentanyl. Therapy options include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Individual counseling addresses patterns of misuse, triggers, and other possibly co-occurring issues like anxiety or depression.
  • Motivational interviewing. A trained specialist with ask you questions and learn about your motivations to use or quit using drugs. It is known to be effective and allows clients to take a more active role in their treatment.
  • Family or couples therapy. Your family or partner will become involved in your recovery process. They will learn strategies that can help them assist you in your journey, and it will give you a chance to repair relationships with people close to you.
  • Support groups. While 12-step groups are the most renowned support groups, there are also non-12-step options that can help you. These discussions are led by people in recovery who share their struggles and tips with you. They allow you to socialize with people who better understand what you are going through.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 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.
  • Naltrexone is a monthly injection known to prevent opioid cravings. It requires that you are compliant in your treatment. It is known to be safe.
  • Buprenorphine is available on its own or in combination with another medication. It is a sublingual dose of medication known to interact with the same chemical messengers influenced by opioids. It prevents cravings and allows you to deal with symptoms of withdrawal, but it is not known to cause a high.
  • Methadone is used by people whose misuse of opioids is serious. It prevents withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids. Since fentanyl is such a potent opioid, methadone may be used as a replacement medication for those who have been chronically abusing fentanyl and other strong opioids.

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 situation. This plan will likely change as you progress in recovery.

Who Uses Fentanyl?

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.
  • In 2011, 366,181 people visited the emergency room because of opioid overdoses.
  • The number of people who overdosed on opioids because of recreational use went up by 117 percent between 2005 to 2011.
  • Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses stayed stable between 2008 and 2011.
  • Since 2005, fentanyl has been implicated in overdose deaths because it is commonly used to lace other drugs, such as heroin. Oftentimes, people do not even know that fentanyl is in the drug they are taking. This results in many unintentional overdoses.

Campus Drug Prevention, an initiative by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), says that fentanyl-laced cocaine is a special concern across college campuses today. If you use any illicit drug, there is the possibility that it is laced with fentanyl.

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