Fentanyl is an effective drug to treat post-surgery and cancer pain. It is particularly helpful in providing relief during the end stages of the disease.
When misused, fentanyl is very dangerous because it is highly addictive and can easily cause a fatal overdose.
Opioid drug addiction can be treated at a rehab program. Treatment services may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), detox, and behavioral therapy.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication that was originally introduced in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic. It is between 50 and 100 times more powerful than morphine.
The intense euphoric effects of Fentanyl make it attractive as a drug of abuse.
Fentanyl can be illegally manufactured and used as a lacing agent for heroin or other illicit drugs, carrying with it a high risk of fatal overdose.
Effects Of Fentanyl
When used as prescribed, fentanyl can provide effective pain relief. When abused, it can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Short-Term Effects Of Fentanyl
The short-term effects of fentanyl can include pain relief and extreme happiness or euphoria.
Other short term-effects can include:
- depressed respiration
Long-Term Effects Of Fentanyl
Long-term effects of fentanyl abuse include physical dependence on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms start soon after you stop taking it.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- muscle pain
- bone pain
- severe cravings
- muscle spasms and involuntary leg movements
- cold flashes
Intended Uses Of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is typically used in hospitals to control pain after surgeries.
It can also be used to treat cancer pain. It is often prescribed as a skin patch that regularly doses the medication over a period of time. Patients are also given oral fentanyl for breakthrough pain.
Sometimes fentanyl is used for chronic pain relief when a patient cannot tolerate other opioid medications, but this is uncommon.
How Is Fentanyl Abused?
Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in clandestine labs and is abused in a variety of ways. Typically, it is sold as a powder which can then be smoked or dissolved in water and injected.
Other ways of misusing fentanyl include:
- swallowing pills made to look like prescription pills
- draining skin patches and injecting the gel
- using it to spike blotter paper
- abusing methamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA, or heroin laced with fentanyl
Dangers Of Fentanyl Misuse
Fentanyl-laced drugs are just one of the dangers of abusing it or other illicit drugs. Other dangers include the risk of addiction and overdose.
Fentanyl Use Can Lead To Addiction
As a powerful opioid, fentanyl can lead to physical dependence even if you are taking it correctly.
Physical dependence is not the same thing as addiction. Dependence simply means that your body is acclimated to the substance but can still withstand some degree of withdrawal.
Dependence can eventually lead to addiction, which is characterized by the chronic and habitual use of a drug regardless of the negative circumstances.
Fentanyl Abuse Can Lead To An Overdose
Fentanyl use can also lead to overdose. Since it is a very powerful opioid it is easier to overdose on it than other prescription drugs.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 42% of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg, which is considered a potentially fatal dose.
Fentanyl May Be Laced With Other Substances
Due to its high potency, drug dealers often lace other street drugs with fentanyl to increase their profit margins.
Oftentimes, people who engage in MDMA, heroin, or cocaine abuse are also ingesting an unknown quality of fentanyl.
Signs Of Fentanyl Abuse
There are several physical, environmental, and behavioral signs that may point to fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl drug paraphernalia may include syringes, burnt spoons, or baggies with powder residue.
Behavioral Signs Of Fentanyl Abuse
Behavioral signs of drug abuse include the changes in behavior a person exhibits when they’re high on drugs.
Behavioral signs of fentanyl addiction can include:
- a tendency to isolate from family
- a sudden change in friends or social network
- changes in attitude
- decline in performance at school or work
- loss of interest in hobbies or interests that were
- formerly enjoyable
Physical Signs Of Fentanyl Abuse
Some physical signs of fentanyl abuse will be present at first use, while others may take a period of time to become noticeable.
Physical signs of addiction can include:
- small pupils
- increase or loss of appetite
- weight gain or loss
- change of wardrobe such as long sleeves to hide needle marks
- symptoms that resemble a really bad case of the flu
Symptoms Of Fentanyl Overdose
Fentanyl abuse can quickly lead to overdose, particularly if the fentanyl is unknowingly mixed with another substance of abuse.
You can detect a fentanyl overdose by watching for these signs:
- pupils that look like pinpoints
- depressed respiratory rate
- cold and clammy skin that has a blueish color
- hypoxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain)
What To Do In Case Of A Fentanyl Overdose
A fentanyl overdose can be reversed if medical professionals arrive quickly, or if you have naloxone on hand to reverse it.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist which binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and prevents fentanyl (or another opioid such as heroin) from binding to those receptors.
In many states, emergency naloxone kits are available without a prescription.
How Fentanyl Addiction Is Treated
People who are battling an opioid use disorder can take the first step toward achieving sobriety at an addiction treatment center.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
One of the ways that a rehab center treats opioid use disorders is through the use of medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings.
MAT can employ a number of opioid agonists, partial agonists, and antagonists.
An opioid agonist mimics the effects of opioid drugs without the addictive consequences. An opioid antagonist binds to opioid receptors and helps to suppress opioid cravings.
Medications for opioid abuse may include:
- methadone (an opioid agonist)
- buprenorphine (a partial agonist)
- naltrexone (opioid antagonist)
- naloxone (opioid antagonist)
Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Co-occurring Disorders
People with mental health disorders are far more likely to abuse drugs.
A dual diagnosis treatment program will address addiction and the underlying mental health issues that are exacerbating substance abuse.
Rehab centers also use a range of behavioral therapies to uncover the root of addiction and change the thought patterns that addictive behaviors have reinforced.
Effective types of therapy that clinicians may use for addiction treatment include:
- motivational interviewing, which focuses on the emotions that a client would like to change
- contingency management, which utilizes a point system based on a negative drug test and creates a marketplace that includes items a client can buy with points
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), through which clients learn to manage triggers and modify their behavior and expectations
- dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which teaches people healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their interpersonal relationships.
Evidence-based addiction treatment programs can put you or your loved ones on track to lasting recovery.
If the cost of drug treatment is a barrier to getting help, there are several free rehab centers throughout the United States that can provide adequate care at little to no cost.
Find Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction Today
Reach out to DetoxRehabs.net today to learn more about treatment options for addiction.Article Sources
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports
- New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)