Fentanyl is one of the deadliest and most abused drugs today, especially amongst young adults. In fact, the CDC now shows that Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45. In addition to it being a deadly drug, it is also incredibly addictive, making it difficult for people to quit altogether.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of Fentanyl overdose and withdrawal as well as the signs of Fentanyl abuse and addiction. If your loved one is currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they will need to get help from a professional medical detox center or inpatient treatment center.
The information below will help you learn about why people abuse Fentanyl, the signs and symptoms, the causes of fentanyl abuse and fentanyl addiction, and how you can help your loved one recover.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid pain medication that is prescribed for managing chronic pain, for severe acute pain relief, and to help those after surgery feel pain relief. It is considered an opioid, not an opiate because it is man-made. Many illegal labs are now responsible for the manufacturing of illicit Fentanyl, in addition to pharmaceutical companies.
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 lozenges for people to suck on and ingest slowly.
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 other opioids, 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 more severe Fentanyl use disorder.
In addition, this can also lead to co-occurring disorders, as the continued use of Fentanyl can make it difficult to experience emotions and lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
Why Does Fentanyl Lead to Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms?
In addition to being addicting psychologically and emotionally, the body also develops a dependence on opioids like Fentanyl. The more time someone spends abusing fentanyl, the higher the chances of developing 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, or balance 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.
Why Fentanyl is Deadly
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 deadly, and extremely addictive.
Although Fentanyl is commonly used in medical settings, it has now found its way onto the street and is sold to unsuspecting people with drug abuse disorders. In fact, the DEA warns that because Fentanyl is more potent, addictive, and cheaper than most other drugs, it is being used as an additive to many other drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, or Xanax to make them more addictive, often times unbeknownst to the user. Sadly, the more people use Fentanyl and other drugs, the more likely they are to suffer from an accidental overdose.
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
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.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal will vary depending on the severity of use, someone’s dependence to the drug, and other factors. However, these signs and symptoms are quite common in fentanyl users and opioid use disorder.
People stopping fentanyl use can experience withdrawal symptoms including:
Behavioral symptoms such as sad mood
Muscle aches and cramps
Goose flesh, also known as chills
Nausea or vomiting
Dilated pupils, which are bigger than normal
High blood pressure
Opioid Withdrawal Treatment Options
Although you or a loved one might want to simply stop using Fentanyl alone or quit cold turkey, this might be impossible when experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Not only are these symptoms extremely uncomfortable, but they can also be deadly.
The opioid withdrawal itself isn’t fatal, 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. People can obtain help for withdrawal symptoms through inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Proper withdrawal management offered at an inpatient treatment center can include:
24/7 medical care to ensure no complications arise from withdrawal symptoms
Nursing staff on hand to offer comfort and support, as well as additional medications to help with pain and other symptoms
Drugs to help wean off opioids slowly, such as methadone
A closed and monitored environment to prevent relapse if you’re having intense cravings
Immediate medical attention for life-threatening symptoms
How Long With Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Fentanyl withdrawal will usually begin around 12 hours to 48 hours after the last dose was taken. This is because fentanyl is a slow-acting opioid, and the slower the drug acts, the longer it will take for symptoms of withdrawal to arise.
However, when they do arise, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly difficult to manage on your own. They can also last anywhere between 10 to 20 days.
Even after the symptoms of withdrawal subside, other complications can occur, including:
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
Because of these risk factors, it’s important to get professional help for you or a loved one if you have a high tolerance to Fentanyl, have experienced withdrawal in the past, or are looking to finally overcome your fentanyl addiction.
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 Recovery Center
At Clear Recovery Center, 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.
Last Updated on November 12, 2022