The rise in drug abuse and the opioid epidemic has brought about devastating consequences, including a surge in drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45. Of all the drugs contributing to the opioid crisis in the US, none is more destructive than Fentanyl.
The information below will help you learn about why people abuse Fentanyl, the signs, symptoms, and causes of fentanyl abuse and fentanyl addiction, and how you or a loved one can recover from fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl abuse is now a major public health concern, and the first step in overcoming an addiction to this deadly substance is fentanyl detox.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid pain management medication that is prescribed to treat chronic pain, severe acute pain, and to help those after surgery recover. It is very similar to other pain management medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, or tramadol. The difference is, Fentanyl is incredibly powerful. In fact, Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl contains the same chemical structure as opium in the poppy plant, which is the main component found in other opiate drugs such as heroin and morphine. Fentanyl is commonly sold as prescription patches that can be placed directly on the skin with the help of a doctor. It can also be used as a lozenge for people to suck on and ingest slowly.
Fentanyl is considered an opioid, not an opiate because it is synthetic. Although it has a legitimate place in hospital settings, illegal labs are now responsible for manufacturing the vast majority of illicit Fentanyl.
Why is Fentanyl So Popular?
There are many theories on how a substance like fentanyl became so popular in the United States. One theory is that the rise of fentanyl abuse in the United States serves as a distressing indicator of an underlying issue plaguing our society. The abuse of a drug like fentanyl reflects a deep-seated problem where individuals seek solace in substances like fentanyl to numb themselves from the challenges they face in their daily lives. Fentanyl doesn’t produce a high as much as renders the users unconscious.
Economic hardships, income inequality, job insecurity, mental illness, and the erosion of social support systems have left many feeling overwhelmed and disillusioned. As the pursuit of the “American Dream” becomes more and more futile, people start to seek an escape from their bleak reality.
The pressures and stressors of modern life, such as the constant connectivity, information overload, and social isolation brought about by technology, can exacerbate feelings of disconnection and despair. In this context, substances like fentanyl become very alluring. Fentanyl and other narcotics offer temporary relief from emotional and physical pain.
Addressing the underlying, systemic issue of the opioid crisis will require a multi-faceted approach. It will entail tackling economic disparities, thwarting social precarity, and fostering an environment where individuals have a sense of purpose and hope for the future. By addressing these issues at all levels, we can work towards alleviating the nihilistic desire for numbness that so many young people today face.
What Makes Fentanyl So Addictive?
It’s important to understand what makes Fentanyl so addictive, and how it can lead to a substance use disorder. Fentanyl, like oxycodone, morphine, and tramadol, binds to the opioid receptors of the brain. By binding to the opioid receptors, Fentanyl blocks out feelings of pain, while also blocking out feelings of pleasure at the same time. Over time, it becomes quite difficult to feel any sort of pleasure from regular activities, leading to addiction, depression, and other co-occurring disorders.
Additionally, when a person takes Fentanyl regularly, their body quickly becomes accustomed to the powerful effects of the drug, making it incredibly difficult to stop taking it.
What Makes Fentanyl So Deadly?
Fentanyl is dangerous. Understanding what makes fentanyl so deadly is crucial in addressing the risks associated with its use and combating the devastating consequences it has on individuals and communities.
Fentanyl is an exceptionally potent synthetic opioid. Although Fentanyl is used to treat pain, it’s important to know that it is around 100 times more powerful than morphine, making it extremely powerful.
Rapid Onset and Intensity
Fentanyl acts quickly upon entering the body. Even seasoned drug users are often caught off guard by the rapid and intense effects of fentanyl, dramatically increasing the likelihood of adverse reactions or overdose. The speed at which fentanyl affects the central nervous system can overwhelm the body’s natural regulatory mechanisms, posing a significant risk to the user’s health and well-being.
One of the most life-threatening effects of fentanyl is its ability to depress the respiratory system. The drug slows down breathing and can cause respiratory failure, especially when used in high doses or combined with other substances that also depress the respiratory system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Decreased oxygen supply to the brain and other vital organs can quickly lead to irreversible damage or death.
Illicit Production and Distribution
Illegally manufactured fentanyl has flooded the illegal drug market. Unregulated production and distribution contribute to the unpredictability and dangers associated with fentanyl abuse. Unbeknownst to the user, many drug manufacturers “lace” fentanyl into other, more expensive drugs like cocaine or heroin in order to cut costs and make more money.
High Risk of Overdose
Fentanyl’s extreme potency significantly increases the risk of overdose. Even a small miscalculation in dosage can lead to a lethal outcome. Since the drug is so potent, users may unknowingly consume dangerous amounts, especially if it has been mixed with other substances like heroin or cocaine without their knowledge. The narrow margin between the desired effect and an overdose makes fentanyl an incredibly perilous substance.
Signs and Symptoms of Overdose Effects
It’s good to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Fentanyl overdose effects. These include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Not breathing
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
- Slow or non-existent pulse
If your loved one is showing these symptoms, it’s time to focus on life-saving measures instead of addiction treatment. Call 911 as soon as possible. Naloxone can also be a life saving measure to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
Why Does Fentanyl Use Lead to Withdrawal Symptoms?
Fentanyl is psychologically and physically addictive. The more time someone spends abusing fentanyl, the more accustomed to the drug their body becomes. When a person’s body develops a dependence to opioids like Fentanyl, they cannot stop taking the drug, or else they will develop severe withdrawal symptoms.
For fentanyl users, and those with opioid use disorder, it can be incredibly difficult to manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal alone. This is because the body will naturally want to reach a point of homeostasis when the drug that was once available to it is suddenly taken away.
The body’s attempt to return to homeostasis is what leads to severe pain and other symptoms of Fentanyl withdrawal. It is what makes Fentanyl addiction so difficult to treat, and why substance abuse treatment must begin to ensure proper opioid withdrawal management.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal will vary depending on the severity of use, someone’s dependence on the drug, and other factors. However, these signs and symptoms are quite common in fentanyl users and opioid use disorders.
People stopping fentanyl and other synthetic opioids can experience withdrawal symptoms including:
- Agitation and anger
- Severe restlessness
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Goosebumps or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dilated pupils, which are bigger than normal
- Fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- High blood pressure
Fentanyl withdrawal is an incredibly challenging process due to the drug’s extreme potency and intensely addictive nature. The severity of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms often necessitates medical detox, which provides a safe and supervised environment for individuals seeking to break free from their addiction. Fentanyl detox services are offered in specialized medical detox centers, equipped to manage severe withdrawal symptoms effectively.
Fentanyl Detox and Fentanyl Withdrawal Treatment Options
Although you or a loved one might want to simply stop using Fentanyl alone or quit cold turkey, this might prove to be almost impossible when experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Not only are these symptoms extremely uncomfortable, but they can also be deadly.
Opioid withdrawal itself isn’t fatal, but certain complications can arise from issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, or high blood pressure. Therefore, it’s best to seek out medical detox or medical care when undergoing fentanyl addiction treatment. Various treatment options are available to help individuals navigate the challenging journey of fentanyl detoxification. Medical detox centers provide around-the-clock medical supervision and support for fentanyl addiction control, ensuring the safety and comfort of individuals during the detox process. These facilities offer comprehensive care, addressing not only the physical symptoms but also the psychological and emotional aspects of fentanyl detox and fentanyl addiction recovery.
What is Fentanyl Detox Like?
During the fentanyl detoxification process, medical professionals and mental health professionals try to alleviate severe symptoms and manage drug cravings. Medications may be administered to mitigate withdrawal discomfort, stabilize vital signs, and reduce the risk of complications. Additionally, behavioral therapies and counseling play a crucial role in addressing the underlying causes of fentanyl abuse disorder and developing coping mechanisms for long-term recovery and sobriety.
Fentanyl addiction control is a multifaceted process that extends beyond detoxification. After completing detox, individuals are encouraged to engage in ongoing treatment programs, such as residential or outpatient rehab, to further address the psychological and social factors contributing to addiction. These programs provide a supportive environment and equip individuals with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.
It is essential to recognize that fentanyl detox and recovery are highly individualized processes. The severity of the addiction, physical health, mental well-being, and personal circumstances must all be taken into account when determining the most appropriate treatment plan. A tailored approach ensures that individuals receive the necessary support to overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives.
How Long With Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Every person’s fentanyl detoxification experience will be different, but the worst fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will usually begin around 12 hours to 48 hours after the last dose was taken and will subside in about 5 to 10 days.
Even after the acute symptoms of withdrawal subside, other complications can occur. This is referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS, and its symptoms include:
- Depression, anxiety, or agitation
- Increased risk of overdose due to decreased tolerance of the drug
- Feelings of uneasiness and diminished well-being after detox
- Increased strong cravings for the drug while sober
- Risk of relapse and continued substance abuse
These symptoms can last for months after the most difficult fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and medically supervised detox. While there is no fixed timeline for PAWS from fentanyl, it is crucial to remain patient and committed to the recovery journey. With time and proper support, individuals can gradually overcome the lingering symptoms, avoid drug abuse altogether, and regain control of their lives.
Is Fentanyl Withdrawal Management Necessary to Overcome Fentanyl Addiction?
The first step in substance abuse treatment will be to overcome your withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment. By getting help through medical detox or other detoxification programs, you or a loved one can get physically and emotionally stabilized before beginning long-term substance abuse treatment.
In addition, detox services and managing Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can help in fostering patient readiness and preparing you for entry into addiction treatment. While detox won’t address the underlying issues of addiction, when combined with a long-term addiction treatment program and aftercare, withdrawal management can help improve your or a loved one’s chances of recovery.
Get Help for Opioid Addiction Treatment Today At Clear Behavioral Health
At Clear Behavioral Health, we understand just how important it is to provide you or your loved one with the safest and most comfortable withdrawal experience possible and minimize the risks associated with Fentanyl and opioid withdrawal.
We offer withdrawal management through our detox program and provide follow-up care through our other addiction and mental health aftercare programs. Reach out today 877.799.1985 to find out more about how we can help you overcome Fentanyl addiction through continued care at our residential rehabilitation program, outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment programs, and other aftercare options.