In 2019, more than 36,359 overdose deaths occurred nationwide that involved synthetic opioids other than methadone. Of these synthetic opioids, the most common was fentanyl.
Over the past couple of decades, fentanyl abuse and fentanyl overdoses have been on the rise.
If you or someone you love has become addicted to fentanyl, you know first-hand how destructive it can be. Because of this, there has been a growing demand for Fentanyl addiction treatment at drug rehab centers across the country.
Before you get started in rehab, you may want to learn more about fentanyl and how it affects its users.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, making it incredibly potent, addicting, and dangerous.
In the medical field, fentanyl is used to treat severe pain, particularly for patients who have undergone serious surgery or found themselves in a bad impact accident. In rarer cases, it is used to treat chronic pain in those who have become tolerant to opioids.
This opioid tolerance means that the user needs to take higher and more frequent doses.
Unfortunately, fentanyl has been increasingly manufactured and distributed illicitly. Even several fentanyl analogs — that have the potential to be hundreds of times stronger than fentanyl — have also made their way into the black market.
Overdose deaths involving fentanyl (or fentanyl analogs) have become a big problem in the US. In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl. In 2010, that percentage was only 14.3%.
Even scarier, fentanyl is not often marketed so transparently. Not only has it found its way into street heroin, but it has found its way into cocaine. Because fentanyl is a downer, and cocaine is an upper, it is a recipe for heart failure.
Fentanyl Addiction Symptoms
Fentanyl works by binding to the opioid receptors in the body, just like other opioids like morphine and heroin. These receptors lie in the part of the brain that controls emotion and pain. Over time, though, the brain adapts to the drug. This makes it incredibly difficult to receive pleasure from anything other than opioids.
Drug-seeking and drug use take over the lives of those who become addicted.
The effects of fentanyl include:
- Strong sense of well-being
- Respiratory problems
If you are concerned that a person you know is dealing with fentanyl addiction, there are some warning signs you can keep an eye out for. Of course, there are many other reasons for these symptoms, and they don’t necessarily indicate a fentanyl addiction.
Signs of addiction to fentanyl include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Upset stomach
- Unusually happy
It’s important to understand that people can overdose on fentanyl, and it can be fatal. Hypoxia, a term for when breathing stops and cuts off oxygen going to the brain, is the ultimate Hypoxia can occur, which is when breathing stops or slows and decreases how much oxygen is getting to the brain. Hypoxia can lead to permanent brain damage and a coma, as well as death.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Because fentanyl is so potent, people can easily become dependent on it.
When someone has a chemical dependency, they experience withdrawal symptoms when not on drugs. Dependency is one key sign of any substance use disorder.
Someone who has become addicted to a drug, or developed a substance use disorder, often faces serious consequences for abusing drugs. The consequences may cause issues at school, work, home, and even long-term health problems.
While you’d think that would be enough to stop using, it’s often the brutal short-term withdrawal symptoms that prevent people from getting clean.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep problems
- Pain in muscles and bone
- Cold flashes with goosebumps
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Severe cravings
- Uncontrollable leg movement
These uncomfortable symptoms are often among the main reasons that people have such a hard time taking the drug once they’ve started. However, there are some FDA-approved medications to help people through their withdrawal symptoms.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment & Rehabilitation
Fentanyl is treated similarly to other opioid addictions. This means that a combination of behavioral therapies and medication is used, as it has been found to be effective for fentanyl addiction treatment.
Some of the medications that are used to treat this drug addiction include:
The behavioral therapies aspect of treatment can help individuals transform their behaviors and attitudes about using drugs. This is an opportunity for them to build healthy life skills and relapse prevention techniques.
Examples of this type of counseling include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) — which can help change the expectations and behaviors around drug use, as well as managing stress and triggers.
- Motivational interviewing — which is a counseling style that addresses the mixed feelings an individual might have with changing their lifestyle.
- Contingency management — which uses a points-based system based on negative drug tests and trade them for objects that encourage healthy lifestyle habits
Because withdrawal from fentanyl can be miserable and harmful to one’s health, it is recommended that you undergo opioid detox at a rehab center staffed with medical professionals.
Fentanyl Rehab in Huntington Beach, CA
When you struggle with drug addiction, it can feel like changing your life is an uphill battle. However, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to go it alone. Help is here for you, and with support, you can start walking down a better path for your health and overall wellbeing.
Break free from fentanyl addiction at our Huntington Beach Rehab for drug and alcohol treatment.
Ready to get your life back on track? Contact us today!