There are many substances to which a person could become addicted. Oftentimes when we think about addiction, our minds go to alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or even heroin, which are substances that have been quite problematic on a large scale for some years now.
However, these aren’t the only substances that pose threats.
Even when we look only at the opiates that exist, there is a wide range of substances that continue to be problematic. In fact, a drug called fentanyl has gotten much publicity lately due to the number of deaths that have been attributed to the drug. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses.
Florida has reported 5,268 overdose deaths per year. 2.56% of all deaths are from a drug overdose. As a result, 7.49% of nationwide overdose deaths occur in Florida. In January 2021, drug overdose deaths exceeded homicides by 306.7%.
Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic severe pain misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder. The chances of developing an opioid use disorder depend on many factors, including the length of time a person is prescribed to take opioids for acute pain, and the length of time that people continue taking opioids (whether as prescribed or misused).
As a result, earlier reports have indicated that increases in synthetic opioid-involved deaths have been associated with the number of drug submissions obtained by law enforcement that test positive for fentanyl but not with fentanyl prescribing rates. Treatment options have become available to curb the drastic wave of opioid addiction.
Before we take a closer look at fentanyl, it’s important to have an understanding of its background, which requires a brief discussion of opium. Derived from the opium poppy, opium is a sap-like substance that has been used for thousands of years for things like surgical anesthesia, spiritual practices, as a treatment for respiratory illness, and even recreationally. In fact, our history with opium goes back thousands of years to the days of ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt.
There are also fentanyl analogs, which are similar in chemical structure to fentanyl but not routinely detected because specialized toxicology testing is required, such as:
However, estimates of the potency of fentanyl analogs vary from less potent than fentanyl to much more potent. Still, there is some uncertainty because the potency of illicitly manufactured fentanyl analogs has not been evaluated in humans.
Specifically, these societies lived thousands of years ago and inspired the continued use of opium that continues in some ways even today. It was when opium was brought to China that the drug’s use really began to spread around the world. Upon reaching China, the drug’s use became so widespread that opium is still strongly associated with Chinese culture.
Upon taking a closer look at opium, researchers realized that the drug’s active effects were the result of two key alkaloids: codeine and morphine. The idea was that they’d experiment on these two substances in the hope of developing the next best thing. It wasn’t until 1959 that fentanyl would finally emerge, following the inception of pethidine, which is most familiar as the substance called Demerol.
After its creation, researchers quickly realized that fentanyl was between 50 and 100 times more powerful than morphine, which was especially dangerous since fentanyl was first designed for intravenous use (under the trade name Sublimaze).
As mentioned above, the effects of fentanyl are between 50 and 100 times more powerful than morphine, which some consider to be the quintessential opiate. Meanwhile, fentanyl offers several characteristics similar to other opiates as well as certain depressants, putting users in grave danger.
In many cases, fentanyl usage causes the following effects:
Similar to other opiates, the initial intake of fentanyl is met with the characteristic opiate ‘rush,’ which is a sense of warmth and numbness or a tingling sensation that radiates throughout the body. Hours upon hours of pain could wash away from a hit. As well, users feel immense relaxation and drowsiness, a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and difficulty with coordination. It’s often difficult for fentanyl users to think clearly, too.
Opioids kill more than three times as many people as cocaine. Drug overdose deaths rank just below diabetes in terms of the highest death count. In fact, men are more than twice as likely as women to die from a drug overdose.
The following could be indicators of fentanyl addiction:
Being one of the most powerful opiate drugs in existence, those who become addicted to fentanyl experience withdrawal symptoms when they’re unable to obtain or take the drug.
Among the most common of these symptoms, there are:
Typically, these withdrawal symptoms are mild at first, becoming increasingly more pronounced and severe the more time that the individual in question spends without the substance.
Fentanyl detox is the process of withdrawing from fentanyl. It is a difficult process that can cause several opioid withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweats, chills, and cravings.
Individuals who have been addicted to fentanyl or other opioids should not try to detox on their own. This is because fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are very difficult and painful. Opioid drugs, including fentanyl, can cause a great deal of harm if they are misused or abused.
However, fentanyl detox can be done in the home. A fentanyl addict who wishes to perform fentanyl detox at home should use Suboxone (a drug that reduces cravings for opioids) with help from a fentanyl addiction treatment professional or Subutex (an alternative to suboxone). Patients must take their daily dose on time every day until they are completely done with fentanyl detox.
An option which an individual may complete his fentanyl detox by taking medications like clonidine and naltrexone instead of using Suboxone/Subutex. It’s important to speak with a fentanyl addiction specialist before starting any detox plan.
Fentanyl detox is not always successful. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Detoxification from fentanyl or related opioids can be very difficult and may require medical treatment in a hospital setting.” Many people who try to detox from fentanyl on their own end up relapsing because the withdrawal symptoms are too much to handle.
That’s why it’s important to seek professional help when detoxing from fentanyl. A medical fentanyl addiction specialist can create a personalized detox plan that will make the process as comfortable and safe as possible. Naloxone can be used to reverse the effects of a fentanyl overdose. Naloxone has been a non-addictive resource when administered in time. Naloxone can expand access through standing orders from pharmacies, distribution from local, community-based organizations, and law enforcement officials.
The length of recovery from fentanyl withdrawal symptoms depends on how long patients have been abusing drugs. On average, the fentanyl withdrawal timeline can last from 4-10 days for short-acting forms and 10-20 days for long-acting forms. Considering the potency, fentanyl may present lasting effects on the brain — therefore, medical detox is an invaluable resource for recovery. Opioid withdrawals usually begin within 12-30 hours of the last dose of an opioid. After roughly 17 hours after the removal of the fentanyl patch, drug cravings can begin after a day.
The process of medical detox can include tapering the person off drugs in order for their brain to adjust to a safer level. Recovery from drugs like fentanyl can present post-acute symptoms months after medical detox. Treatment centers usually encourage aftercare programs to provide information that’s practical to help recovery. The pain someone experiences of training the body and brain to rely on without drugs can get overwhelming.
You can take Suboxone to detox from fentanyl. However, Suboxone is a powerful drug on its own. Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist used to treat drug cravings from substance abuse like fentanyl. On the other hand, the opioid effects of Suboxone (which contains buprenorphine) can decrease despite the increased dosage. Opioid withdrawal requires a combination of therapies to increase the chances of recovery during this medical process.
Using fentanyl can be life-threatening if left unchecked. Consult with your health care provider to determine your insurance coverage. This information can be invaluable towards treatment options for substance abuse in general. Insurance laws have made substance abuse a priority for care after the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Insurance companies may be able to cover all or portions of substance abuse treatment at local centers. Medical detox is commonly covered by insurance.
Overcoming Fentanyl Addiction
It’s incredibly scary to be addicted to fentanyl, considering the brain deems it safe. In fact, one of the most common reasons why addicts continue to remain inactive addiction is because they fear withdrawal symptoms. The doubts of recovery can begin to flood your mind. Fortunately, there are many confidential resources available to make overcoming fentanyl addiction possible.
Typically, this begins with detoxification, which is a period during which the individual addresses the physical aspects of the addiction; in short, the objective is to ensure that he or she isn’t experiencing withdrawals when he or she begins the treatment phase. Next, the treatment phase consists of individual counseling, group therapy, life skills sessions, relapse prevention training, holistic therapies, and various other elements.
For those who are struggling with a fentanyl addiction, medication-assisted treatment may be the best option. This type of treatment uses medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications can be administered in an outpatient setting or a residential rehab program.
This type of treatment uses medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications can be administered in an outpatient setting or a residential facility.
Methadone is one of the most common medications used to help with fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It’s an opioid medicine that can prevent or lessen withdrawal symptoms and can be taken in either pill form or administered in liquid form.
Buprenorphine is another medication that may be used in fentanyl detox treatment. Buprenorphine works like methadone, but it also has the ability to reduce cravings for fentanyl.
Although fentanyl medical detox is often successful, there are some cases in which a more intensive form of treatment is required. In these cases, residential treatment may be the best option. Residential treatment provides 24-hour care and support, ensuring that individuals have everything they need to succeed in their recovery.
There are a variety of residential treatment programs available, each with its own unique set of features and benefits. It’s important to find the one that’s right for you, as this will increase your chances of achieving long-term sobriety.
If you’re not ready for residential treatment, or if your addiction isn’t as severe, outpatient treatment may be a better option. Outpatient treatment allows you to continue living at home while receiving regular counseling and therapy sessions.
This type of treatment is perfect for those who have other responsibilities, such as work or school, that they can’t leave behind. Intensive Outpatient Treatment: For those who don’t require residential treatment, fentanyl addiction can also be treated through intensive outpatient programs.
Dual diagnosis treatment is used to treat fentanyl addiction, as well as a co-occurring mental health disorder. Co-occurring disorders affect a large portion of recovering individuals. If you have a mental health disorder in addition to your fentanyl addiction, it’s important to address both issues simultaneously. This type of treatment can be effective in reducing relapse rates and improving overall outcomes.
Support groups for fentanyl addiction can also be very helpful. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences and learn from others who are dealing with fentanyl addiction. The fentanyl addict may be able to see what fentanyl addiction has done to their lives and the lives of those around them, and this realization can help motivate them to seek fentanyl treatment.