2021 saw fentanyl addiction and epidemic within a pandemic as rates of fentanyl misuse soared to unfortunate heights. As the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves trying to cope through substances.

Battling a fentanyl addiction can be tough, and often seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Addiction can be overcome with the right kind of support. Emerald Isle Health & Recovery has a team of experts to guide you towards beating this disorder.

Being surrounded by medical professionals where everyone is dedicated to your growth and survival can be an effective beginning to your journey towards recovery.

What Is Fentanyl?

At its very core, fentanyl is an opioid. It is synthetic and very powerful, similar to morphine, but way more potent. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. When sold as a prescription, fentanyl is known as Sublimaze, Duragesic, and Actiq.

Fentanyl is used to treat severe pain, especially the sort of agonizing pain that one undergoes after a surgery. However, fentanyl must ONLY be used when and if it is prescribed by a qualified medical professional. Even then, it must be used with caution to avoid fentanyl addiction.

There are multiple types of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. An analog is when the medically used drug fentanyl is altered, illicitly, to mimic the original drug. The chemical structure is similar, but it is not the same.

Fentanyl Addiction

Where Is Fentanyl Found?

There are three types of opioids. The first is naturally occurring in plants, which is termed an opiate. The second is a semisynthetic opioid, which is extracted from an opiate inside a laboratory. The third is completely synthetic, made by man, in a lab.

Since fentanyl is synthetic, it is made using heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, molly, and sometimes other types of recreational drugs, too. Contrary to popular belief, all opioids are not derived from the opium poppy, only opiates are.

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Is Fentanyl Addictive?

Since fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, it is almost a hundred times more potent than the average opiate. Fentanyl is about fifty to a hundred times more potent than heroin. Due to its strength and euphoric effect, fentanyl is not just simply addictive, but rather more addictive than most other opioids. This is because the relative strength of opioid-type drugs is less potent than fentanyl.

Even if you are taking fentanyl because it is prescribed, there’s a high chance that your body may develop a dependency on fentanyl. Once you stop consuming it, you will probably face withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are severe cravings, leg movements beyond control, goosebumps with cold flashes, vomiting and diarrhea, sleep problems, and bone and muscle pain. There can be other symptoms too.

Because of the severity of these symptoms, many people who have a fentanyl addiction find it difficult to stop using fentanyl. The FDA is trying to create drugs to counteract the withdrawal symptoms, and so far, a non-opioid drug has been approved. It’s called lofexidine.

The Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl has numerous effects, and it is these that make fentanyl widely popular as a recreational drug. Some effects of fentanyl are listed below.

  • Extreme happiness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Unconsciousness
  • Tolerance
  • Addiction
  • Coma
  • Death

The intended effect of fentanyl may sometimes differ from the effect that appears. If you are on prescription fentanyl and feel any uncomfortable effects, please contact your doctor.

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Side Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

Many side effects of fentanyl addiction overlap with the effects. Listed below are some side effects of using fentanyl. If ANY of these occur, inform your doctor.

  • Swollen ankles, feet, lower legs, hands, or arms
  • Pain, irritation, or sores in the mouth where fentanyl was administered
  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Shaking that is uncontrollable
  • Sudden reddening in neck, face, or upper chest
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Unusual dreams
  • Unusual thinking
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Vision changes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weight loss
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness

Severe Side Effects of Fentanyl

Some of the more serious side effects are listed below. If they occur, head to emergency care or urgently call your doctor.

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased urge to breathe
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Seizures
  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Hallucination
  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Severe muscle stiffness
  • Shivering

Can You Overdose on Fentanyl?

Yes, overdosing on fentanyl is possible. In fact, it is quite common. Unfortunately, the statistics on fentanyl abuse and addiction have much more to say about fentanyl overdose than words do. Drug overdose deaths in 2020, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, soared to 56,516 cases. This number is of the deaths that involved synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl.

Fentapills and counterfeit pills for fentanyl are some of the biggest contributors to deaths due to fentanyl overdose. Lab testing done by the United States DEA found that for every 10 pills, 4 contained a dose of fentanyl that could be potentially lethal. These fentapills are becoming increasingly widely available, due to them not requiring a real prescription to be obtained.

What Are the Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction?

While many side effects themselves can indicate a fentanyl addiction, there are other signs too. Look out for them if you fear a loved one may have a fentanyl addiction. Reach out to Emerald Isle Health & Recovery to be assisted with the process.

Psychological Changes

If you notice they aren’t paying attention or seem like they’re daydreaming, it may be a sign because fentanyl impairs concentration. Hallucinations, depression, mood swings, paranoia, anxiety, disorientation, confusion, and impaired judgment are also psychological signs.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes include being very lethargic and not caring about personal hygiene. Some people may even withdraw from their family members and other loved ones. Engaging in risky behavior is another sign.

Physical Changes

Pale skin and sunken eyes are the most common physical changes. Fluctuating weight and gastrointestinal problems may also exist. Breathing issues, cough, and swelling may also indicate a fentanyl addiction.

Drug-Seeking Behaviors

People may forge prescriptions, steal money, or even steal medication. Others may borrow money or take loans to get access to fentanyl.

Unfortunate Life Circumstances

Negative things may be happening to the person who is struggling with a fentanyl addiction. This may be losing a job, losing close friends, or financial trouble, amongst many other things.

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How Is Fentanyl Addiction Treated?

Fentanyl addiction is treated with detox and a number of other treatment techniques combined. Detox is what helps clean the body and remove the toxins left behind by fentanyl. Detox doesn’t cure addiction, but it helps heal the body and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Medications such as methadone may be used to decrease cravings for fentanyl. Coupled with CBT and group therapy, fentanyl addiction is treated through a holistic rehabilitation program. Drugs such as naloxone and Narcan for fentanyl overdose are used, if necessary.

Fentanyl Addiction

Medication Assisted Treatment and Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction benefits from medication-assisted treatment (MAT) because fentanyl is extremely potent and has extreme withdrawal symptoms. MAT increases the chances of retention of the treatment because the medication is controlled and in safe doses. Furthermore, MAT controls cravings and alleviates withdrawal symptoms by binding with the same opioid receptors as fentanyl, making up for the absence of it. MAT also reduces the risk of possible overdose and death by overdose.

Inpatient Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Inpatient treatment for fentanyl addiction refers to fentanyl rehab, in simple terms. It is one of the most effective methods of getting help for fentanyl addiction. Rehab makes use of many types of treatments.

Therapy, whether it is weekly or daily, with a licensed medical professional helps you figure out the root cause of your addiction. Inpatient treatment emphasizes therapy.

Individually tailored detoxification methods help your body recover from the strain and dependence of fentanyl. The relaxing environment and peer support keep your morale up. Medications are also used, depending on the situation, to combat symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal.

Long Term Recovery From Fentanyl Is Possible

Introduced in the sixties after being developed in 1959, the history of fentanyl in the United States is not as dark as the current situation. It was only meant to be an intravenous anaesthetic, but is now widely misused.

However, you can help yourself or your loved one by exploring Emerald Isle Health & Recovery. Their incredible team of experts is ready to help you fight this illness and you are not alone. Their state-of-the-art infrastructure, innovative treatment programs, and focus on mental health can give you the strong beginning to the journey towards recovery.