Fentanyl Addiction And Treatment Options

Fentanyl can help patients in severe or chronic pain, but its powerful effects make it a dangerously addictive drug. In recent years, its popularity has led to a sharp increase in fentanyl-related deaths, quickly making it the most dangerous drug in the US.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that was designed to treat severe or chronic pain in clinical settings. It’s more potent than heroin and morphine, which has contributed to its popularity as an illicit drug. Fentanyl makes users feel a sense of euphoria and relaxation by binding to and activating opioid receptors in the body. This effect on the brain’s pleasure-seeking areas and its blocking of pain signals makes fentanyl addiction especially difficult to overcome.

Signs of Fentanyl Abuse

Behavioral signs of fentanyl abuse include:

  • Increased concern with using or obtaining fentanyl
  • Continuing to use fentanyl despite experiencing negative consequences as a result of its use
  • Neglect of social or professional responsibilities
  • Tolerance, requiring greater doses of fentanyl to achieve the same effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or discontinued
  • Inability to quit even when one wishes to

Side Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

Though many individuals begin using fentanyl as a prescription drug, its use may become problematic over time. These users may erroneously believe that using more of the substance may make it more effective, despite its worsening side effects. Some common physical side effects of fentanyl abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Sedation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure

Fentanyl Overdose

In addition to dulling the sensation of pain, fentanyl affects the parts of the brain that control breathing. Excessive use may lead to a dangerously depressed respiratory system which can disrupt the brain’s ability to receive oxygen, leading to coma or death.

Overdose may be more likely if fentanyl is mixed with other substances such as other opiates or alcohol. Because overdose can be fatal, fentanyl overdose is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Some symptoms of overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Clammy and cold skin
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Limp muscles
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Depressed respiration

Anyone exhibiting these symptoms should not be left alone until first responders arrive. Overdose is typically treated with a drug called naloxone, which binds to opioid receptors and blocks the effect of fentanyl. It typically only works when administered right away, and severe overdose may require multiple doses of naloxone.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

When a person is suffering from physical addiction to fentanyl, withdrawal may cause uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms. These occur while the body struggles to adjust without the presence of the drug. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Involuntary motor movements
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils

Because fentanyl is so potent, prolonged and excessive use may lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Hypertension Seizures

Cases of severe fentanyl addiction typically warrant medically supervised detox, which allows the body to eliminate the drug while under close observation. Doctors can assist in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms through the administration of medication.

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery

Recovery from fentanyl addiction can be especially difficult to attempt without professional help. Luckily, addiction treatment facilities can provide a roadmap to recovery that is sensitive to the specific challenges that opioid addiction poses.

Fentanyl addiction recovery begins with the detox process. In order to manage potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, medical staff are on hand to reduce discomfort and ensure that vital statistics remain at healthy levels.

safely eliminating opioids from your system, treatment progresses into identifying the psychological and emotional causes for substance abuse. This may include inpatient treatment involving individual therapy sessions and group therapy. Many individuals progress to outpatient programs that allow them to reintegrate slowly into their regular routine while still maintaining regular program involvement. Treatment is individualized according to your needs and the severity of your addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Can Help With Fentanyl Addiction

Quitting a drug like fentanyl “cold turkey” can have detrimental and potentially life-threatening consequences. That’s why medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often used to safely detox from fentanyl and other powerful opioids. Medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone serve a variety of purposes depending on the patient’s individual needs. These include:

  • Balancing brain chemistry
  • Blocking the euphoric effects of opioids
  • Relief of withdrawal symptoms
  • Normalizing bodily functions

MAT can improve a person’s chance of survival, keep an individual in treatment, and over time, decrease illicit opioid use.

Fentanyl Addiction FAQs

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

At Riverwalk Ranch, we are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, helping you manage fentanyl addiction as part of our comprehensive addiction treatment services. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, our professionals use only empirically-supported interventions to help you safely and comfortably eliminate fentanyl from your system and begin your journey toward recovery. At Riverwalk, you will find an encouraging and safe haven to detox, surrounded by addiction specialists and other like-minded peers all working toward a healthier life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from fentanyl addiction or is at risk of overdose, don’t wait to contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Timely intervention could mean the difference between life and death. Whether you live in Texas or you’re looking for a fresh start in a new environment, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive home for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life free from addiction, and we are committed to helping you overcome fentanyl addiction in order to get you there.

We accept most insurances

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