Fentanyl‌ ‌Addiction‌ & Treatment

Among the drugs that isn’t as popular in the streets but definitely is a source of addiction to many users is the addiction to fentanyl. So what is fentanyl and what makes it so addictive? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Fentanyl?

For those who don’t know what fentanyl is, fentanyl is a powerful opioid which is used for pain that cannot be remedied by morphine or any other analgesics. The strength of this drug is believed to be 50 times stronger than morphine. While this is known to be very potent, it can also be dangerous when given at a higher dosage. This is also the reason why it should be administered by a health care professional to avoid overdosing. 

Fentanyl does not only relieve pain but also provides a sense of relaxation to the user. Because of this, it became the drug of choice for those who are looking for that intense “high” feeling. Whether the user is self-medicating or uses fentanyl for recreational purposes, the dangers of abusing fentanyl is the same. In short, it can develop long-term damages and even cause sudden death due to overdosing. 

There are now plenty of synthetic derivatives of fentanyl that provides the same effects but poses even worse outcomes. Carfentanil which is a synthetic derivative of fentanyl is believed to be more potent than heroin. In fact, studies show that it is 10,000 times stronger than the said drug. The only legal use for Carfentanil is that it is used among many veterinary clinics as anesthesia to help sedate large animals like elephants. However, many drug addicts use this by mixing it with heroin which makes it even more fatal. 

Anyone who abuses fentanyl must seek the assistance of professional health care providers. Continued abuse of this drug can destroy a person’s life but with proper intervention and care, individuals can still pursue a drug-free life. 

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse

If you or someone you know is abusing fentanyl then it’s best to seek out medical intervention. It is also important to know the most common signs and symptoms of fentanyl addiction to confirm it. Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Has no desire to cut or stop the use of fentanyl
  • Cravings for fentanyl
  • Time and money are spent on this drug
  • Unable to meet or do their responsibilities in work, school or even at home
  • Isolation or withdrawn attitude 
  • Refuses to participate any activities with family and friends
  • Doing risky behaviors just to obtain fentanyl
  • Continues to use the drug even if the consequences are life-threatening
  • Withdrawal symptoms appear the moment they choose not to use the drug

Besides sudden changes in behavior, there are also psychological and physical symptoms present that the drug addict may exhibit. Among of them include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dizziness, fainting or shaking
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching and scratching
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Sleeping in all day

Dangers of Fentanyl Abuse

It is a given fact that fentanyl abuse can lead to death and overdose but how true is this? Many fentanyl addicts develop tolerance to the drug. The more they consume fentanyl, the more dangerous it is to fight off the withdrawal symptoms. Doses that are taken on a large scale can depress the respiratory system to the point of it failing which can lead to sudden death. 

Fentanyl combined with other potent drugs like morphine, heroin or methadone can be the perfect cocktail for death or overdose. This is also one of the reasons why many deaths are unintended overdose because many drug addicts combine these drugs without realizing it’s fatal potency. People who become dependent to fentanyl may also be at risk for co-occuring mental health disorders. Among of these include the following:

  • PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorders
  • Persistent depressive disorder or PPD
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Other substance abuse disorders

Effects of Sudden Withdrawal and Overdose

If a person suddenly decides to stop using fentanyl, withdrawal symptoms could be very painful and harmful to the individual. That is why it is important that the user undergoes withdrawal with proper supervision and assistance from health care providers. Here are the common withdrawal symptoms that you should watch out for:

  • Intense cravings for fentanyl 
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Profuse sweating
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to experience dysphoria or pleasure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle and bone pains

There are also severe withdrawal symptoms that one should look out for. If these symptoms appear or exhibited by a drug addict, immediate medical attention must be given right away:

  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Loss of coordination and motor functions
  • Hallucinations
  • Labored breathing or shallow and irregular respiration
  • Faint pulse
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Pinpoint pupils

Unresponsiveness and labored breathing requires immediate emergency care and must be given right away. If the patient exhibits this, it could mean respiratory failure which can lead to sudden death. 

Treatment for Addiction

Cutting off a fentanyl addiction is rarely life-threatening however, going through withdrawal and detoxification can be a very unpleasant experience. Painful withdrawals can be experienced by the user even if they have reduced their dose or completely ceased taking the drug. Inpatient and outpatient care for drug users must be given under careful supervision by health care providers must be given in order for the user to be successful with their rehabilitation.

Withdrawal symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the drug use. There are also a number of factors affecting their withdrawal and symptoms may range from irritability and chills to restlessness and intense sweating. While the withdrawal from fentanyl is non-lethal, there is still a tendency for the user to relapse. This is why professional medical supervision must be provided during detox so they can finish it without problems and curb the chances of relapsing once again. 

It can be very daunting to overcome fentanyl addiction and the struggle is real to do so but it can be done. The support and encouragement from family, friends and loved ones can do wonders. So begin to break your addiction today and seek the help you or your loved ones need by seeking out help.