According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) have seen drastic increases in the last few years. From 2018 to 2019 alone, the number of synthetic opioids overdose deaths increased by 16%. Since 2013, deaths in this category have increased by 12 times. Fentanyl is highly addictive and comes with extreme dangers and side effects.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat extreme pain – such as in advanced cancer patients. It’s estimated to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine. In a medical setting, fentanyl is closely monitored and only used in serious cases. Unfortunately, it’s street-made, illegal fentanyl that is causing the majority of accidents, overdoses, and death in the United States. Illegally-made fentanyl is often mixed with cocaine or heroin to make it even stronger – which, in turn, makes it even more dangerous.
Side Effects of Fentanyl
Fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors triggering the “pleasure center” of the brain. When an individual takes fentanyl, they may feel extreme happiness and pleasure. This feeling is so pleasant that many people chase it with more and more of the drug, ultimately resulting in addiction.
When an individual stops taking fentanyl, they experience intense withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Severe cravings
- Muscle and bone pain
- Sleep problems
- Cold flashes
- Abnormal thoughts
- Mood changes
Withdrawal symptoms typically start within 12 hours of the last dose of fentanyl and can last up to a week.
The Dangers of Fentanyl
The difference between a medical dose of fentanyl and a lethal amount is minuscule. This, along with the drug’s addictive properties, makes fentanyl incredibly high risk for overdose.
Over time, fentanyl can change the brain’s structure, making it more challenging to stop.
Fentanyl is also incredibly hard to get through legal, medical avenues if you don’t have an actual need for it. This means that individuals addicted to fentanyl may turn to illegal routes to get more of the substance. Illicit versions of fentanyl can be incredibly unsafe to consume, increasing the risk of overdose or death.
Lastly, some studies have shown a correlation between prescription drug addiction and heroin use. Some subsets of people who develop a prescription drug addiction are more at risk of progressing to heroin addiction. This also applies to individuals who are addicted to medically prescribed fentanyl.
Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl addiction may present itself differently in each person, but some common warning signs include:
- Tolerance to the drug
- Withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use fentanyl
- Constantly thinking about taking your next dose or where you’ll get more fentanyl from
- Not being able to stop yourself from taking more
- Avoiding social activities or your usual responsibilities so you can take fentanyl
- Continuing to use fentanyl despite obvious negative consequences – such as at your job, with your relationships, or your health
- Seeking illegal avenues to get more doses
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Individuals who are struggling with fentanyl addiction can seek out treatment that includes medical detox. A medical detox supplies small amounts of managed drugs to the patient. As the body has formed a dependency on the drug, a medical detox allows for a more gradual transition to sobriety and reduces shock. Additionally, medication can help to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
Patients who attempt to quit fentanyl “cold turkey” don’t have high chances of success. Since the withdrawal symptoms are so intense and can last up to a week, going cold turkey is too much for most people to bear. Additionally, the negative experience of attempting to go cold turkey and failing can make an individual less likely to try to get better again in the future.
Conversely, professional addiction treatment gives patients the best chance for recovery. Medication makes detox more manageable, staff are available to monitor for any signs of distress, and professional counselors can offer insight into what’s to come.
After detox, patients should go into individualized therapy to start their recovery. Therapy can help individuals understand why they began to abuse drugs and learn coping mechanisms to stay sober. Some patients may choose to combine their individualized treatment with group counseling as well.
California Rehab Campus
Fentanyl is a dangerous drug that can put your health and life in jeopardy. If you or a loved one are struggling with a fentanyl addiction, it’s crucial you seek professional help right away. California Rehab Campus has the best doctors and medical staff to provide each patient with the customized rehab experience they need to get better. Contact us today to get started.