Fentanyl is a synthetic pharmaceutical opiate used to relieve severe pain. Known as an opioid analgesic, fentanyl works in the brain to change how your body processes and reacts to pain. Since it blocks pain receptors in the brain and increases the happiness-inducing chemical dopamine, many use fentanyl recreationally and succumb to its addictive qualities.
Due to its potency, Fentanyl is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, know that you are not alone, and treatment centers can help. Learn more about the symptoms and causes of fentanyl addiction as well as potential treatment methods to seek help for this complex disease.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Illicit use of this drug is associated with some of the highest numbers of opioid-related overdose deaths. Illegal fentanyl is often combined with heroin or cocaine to enhance its euphoric effects, sometimes without the user’s knowledge.
Many physicians have used fentanyl when pain cannot be lessened with other drugs, often after surgery or during cancer treatment. Fentanyl can be given as a shot, nasal spray, lozenge or a patch on a person’s skin.
Brand names and prescription forms for fentanyl include:
Illicit fentanyl use is most associated with recent overdoses. Illegal forms of fentanyl might be sold on the streets as a powder, placed in eye droppers or nasal sprays, dropped onto blotter paper or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.
Some drug dealers combine fentanyl with other common drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine due to its high potency and low cost. This is especially risky for those whose bodies aren’t used to the high strength of this opioid. Some may take fentanyl without realizing it, thereby increasing their risk of overdose.
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It’s estimated that three million people struggle with opioid addiction in the United States today. Whether you take fentanyl recreationally, unknowingly or as prescribed by a doctor, you face a risk of addiction.
The physical dependence on opioids can develop within weeks, though this tends to vary by individual. Just taking opioid medications for more than a few days increases your chances of long-term use. The effects of fentanyl are fast-acting, extremely potent and can be lethal in just one dose.
Researchers believe addiction can occur as a result of several factors. When a person struggles with mental illness or stressful life changes, for instance, they may be at higher risk of developing substance use disorder. The length of time you’ve taken fentanyl and the drug itself can also play a role in addiction:
While several biological, genetic and environmental factors can play a role in substance use disorder, anyone could develop an addiction just based on fentanyl’s chemical makeup and high potency.
When a person experiences uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms, they may be tempted to continue taking the medication to quell these feelings. This choice can quickly become an addiction without the person even realizing it.
Additionally, when taking medication with other substances, like alcohol or ingested in ways differently than prescribed, the risk of addiction increases and can become lethal. When accidentally combining alcohol and fentanyl, for instance, users can experience an effect called dose dumping, which causes more drugs to enter your system all at once and result in an overdose, coma or death.
Several external factors can play a role in developing substance use disorder. Many people taking fentanyl may need it to relieve chronic pain caused by injuries or physical health conditions. Due to its euphoric effects, they may continue taking fentanyl to cope with stressful life changes or trauma.
Stressful changes and environmental factors that could lead to substance use disorder and other mental illnesses include:
When people deal with stressful situations or struggle with traumatic events, the body releases stress hormones that can alter our genes. Stress hormones can affect our brain’s reward circuitry, especially in young adulthood when our brain is still developing, and lead to the development of a substance use disorder at any time in someone’s life.
If you struggle with academic stress, relationship pressures or a high-stress career, you may be more likely to turn to substances to cope. And if you frequently find yourself in high-risk places where people use substances, you might also be vulnerable to addiction. Since it’s commonly mixed with other substances and made to appear like other prescription drugs, many may ingest fentanyl in these situations and develop an addiction.
The connection between substance use disorder and mental illness is well-documented. Experts find that mental health conditions like depression and anxiety often coincide with addiction and can either lead to or result from substance use disorder. In fact, national surveys show that half of those who experience a mental illness will also experience substance use disorder at some point throughout their lives and vice versa.
Co-occurring mental illnesses that often occur at high prevalence with substance use disorder often include:
While addiction can occur at any time in a person’s life, substance use typically begins in youth, at the point where mental illness symptoms begin to appear. This might be due to the inability to cope with stressful changes that often occur in the transition to young adulthood, leaving this group of people particularly vulnerable to substance use disorder.
Once combined with genetic vulnerabilities and external influences, these psychological symptoms present a high risk of developing an addiction.
Fentanyl addiction has a significant impact on a person’s social, financial, mental and physical well-being. The misuse and addiction to opioids like fentanyl is a serious national health crisis that affects victims and their relationships with others.
Whether used legally, illegally, stolen or shared, Fentanyl is responsible for most overdose deaths in the U.S. today, with over 150 people dying from them every day. It’s essential to recognize the short and long-term danger of fentanyl addiction so you or someone you know can receive the care and medical attention they need:
Since fentanyl is so potent, many feel its effects almost immediately, depending on how it’s taken. While some may use prescription fentanyl to alleviate chronic pain, many use this drug recreationally to induce a sense of happiness and a deep state of relaxation.
When taking fentanyl recreationally, a person might experience short-term symptoms such as:
Even in the short term, taking fentanyl can be dangerous. A person taking this medication might become unconscious or have slowed breathing. A single use of fentanyl could result in life-threatening respiratory depression and overdose, so it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms if you or someone you know is taking fentanyl.
Fentanyl can cause severe psychological dependence when taken frequently. Like heroin and other opioids, fentanyl’s effects are created by binding to opioid receptors in our brain that regulate pain and emotions. After taking fentanyl many times, the brain will adapt to the drug’s effects, diminish its sensitivity and make it difficult for the person to feel happiness from anything other than the drug.
Fentanyl can also drastically alter your thinking and cause dizziness or drowsiness. That’s why it’s essential not to drive and to avoid drinking alcohol for several hours after taking it.
And while the research is still growing, experts have noticed a link between prescription opioid use and new-onset depression. In a 2020 study, researchers found that those using prescription opioid medications like codeine, morphine, tramadol and fentanyl had an increased risk for major depression.
Similarly, when taking fentanyl while struggling with depression, the medication might worsen depressive symptoms like:
When taking an opioid drug long term and attempting to stop abruptly, users can experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Even short-term use can lead to physical dependence and potentially develop into an addiction.
Since fentanyl changes brain chemistry, when dependence sets in, the brain will stop producing these effects on its own. When taken away, the brain will attempt to restore balance, causing painful and sometimes deadly symptoms. Withdrawal can be intense and flu-life in nature, while psychological symptoms can be equally detrimental.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms might occur within 12 to 48 hours of the last dose of the opioid. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can include:
Drug dealers might combine cheaper fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA to increase their profits, which can often result in an overdose for those who unknowingly ingest laced pills or powder.
If you aren’t sure how much you are taking, it can be very easy to overdose. As little as 2 mg of fentanyl can be lethal or cause a coma and brain damage. A person might underestimate the dose of opioids they’ve taken, especially when their drugs are made to appear like other opioids. To protect you or a loved one from an accidental fentanyl overdose, look for critical signs like:
When a person experiences an overdose on fentanyl, their breathing can slow or even stop. Lowering the amount of oxygen reaching the brain can lead to a coma, permanent brain damage or even death.
It’s essential to call for medical services immediately if you notice any of the above signs. Try to keep the person awake and breathing, lay them on their side to prevent choking and stay with them until medical personnel arrive. A drug called Naloxone may reverse the effects of an overdose, but you still need to contact emergency services if you administer it to someone suffering from an overdose.
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Those struggling with substance use disorder might find it difficult to know when to seek help or to admit how their behaviors affect loved ones. Others might believe they can control their addiction on their own, or that they’ll wait to hit rock bottom before seeking professional attention.
While it’s never too late to ask for help, receiving treatment as soon as possible can increase your chances of healing from and overcoming this complex disease. It may be time to seek treatment for fentanyl addiction if you or a someone you know exhibits behaviors or signs such as:
Fentanyl addiction can negatively impact one’s livelihood, including their relationships, finances and mental and physical health. If you believe that you or a loved one is addicted to Fentanyl, getting help as early as possible can help prevent these unwanted outcomes.
While substance use disorder is a complex and chronic disease, it’s also highly treatable. It’s important to know that you are not alone in your addiction and that addiction treatment centers can help. Since withdrawal is often the most difficult part of the recovery process and can cause clients to relapse, fentanyl addiction will need to be addressed both medically and professionally.
Medically-assisted treatment and psychotherapy can be highly effective in helping individuals recover from fentanyl addiction and get their lives back on track. Depending on the individual and the intensity or length of the addiction, people who struggle with fentanyl addiction can receive help through residential or outpatient treatment programs. These programs are designed to help individuals curb drug cravings, reach sobriety and provide ongoing support when treatment ends. Fentanyl addiction treatment options include:
When you opt for residential or inpatient care, you’ll live with fellow peers struggling with substance use disorder and work on overcoming your fentanyl addiction through therapy and medically-assisted treatment. Residential treatment centers typically provide nutritious meals, exercise and support groups to help you reach sobriety and achieve an overall healthier lifestyle.
In-patient or partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are helpful for those suffering with severe medical problems as a result of their addiction. You’ll receive treatment for your substance use disorder as well as medical attention for coinciding mental illnesses, like depression or anxiety. A clinic or hospital might also provide counseling, behavioral therapy and a structured health plan to help patients overcome fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl dependence can cause severe and painful symptoms when attempting to quit the medication on your own or by stopping it abruptly. That’s why it’s essential that you receive medical detox administered and supervised by health professionals. Physicians will help you safely and comfortably taper from fentanyl through the use of medicines designed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is crucial for those struggling with long-term fentanyl misuse or addiction.
Social support plays a crucial role in addiction recovery. In group therapy or individual counseling, you can address and alter your attitudes about your addiction while learning coping mechanisms for stress and triggers. Individual therapy provided by highly-trained professionals can help you determine the potential causes of your addiction.
Support groups are typically guided by a counselor or group leader. You’ll be surrounded by people who share similar struggles and work on healing and recovering from fentanyl addiction together.
Outpatient care programs are recommended to help you meet ongoing treatment goals. If you’ve already undergone inpatient therapy and desire flexibility, outpatient programs can be highly beneficial.
Outpatient services allow clients to take care of family members, attend school and and go to work while receiving treatment for fentanyl addiction. They’re typically more affordable than inpatient care, though less intensive since you’ll only attend treatment on select days and times of the week. Clients might attend therapy sessions, receive medical detox if needed or go to group counseling while in outpatient care.
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While you might find temporary relief in fentanyl, its long-term effects can be devastating both financially and socially and lead to coma, overdose and death. When you make the courageous decision to seek help, you’ll be welcomed by physicians, therapists and fellow peers eager to listen and support you through the recovery process.
Chicago fentanyl addiction treatment centers can help you get your life back on track and return to the activities and people you value the most. While recovering from the physical and mental dependence on fentanyl can take time, you’ll appreciate a healthier mind and body when you enter a residential treatment facility. The process of treating a fentanyl addiction typically involves the following steps:
When you enter a drug rehabilitation center, you’ll undergo a medical assessment to determine the proper level of care you need. Doctors can develop a plan to help you detox from Fentanyl, while therapists and other professionals can assist your ongoing treatment needs.
Depending on the severity of your condition, withdrawal can take several weeks. Professionals will administer medicines to help eliminate Fentanyl from your body so you can appreciate a more comfortable recovery process.
Common medicines used to treat opioid addiction include:
These medications can treat fentanyl addiction by either blocking opioid receptors to reduce a person’s chance of relapsing or by easing symptoms of withdrawal. These prescription or over-the-counter medications can treat withdrawal symptoms like cravings, diarrhea, fever, anxiety, depression, flu-like symptoms, pain, sensitivity, irritability and stomach cramping.
Typically, those suffering from fentanyl addiction will need intensive, inpatient care. After medical detox or while gradually tapering the substance from your body, inpatient programs can help clients recover from the changes caused by addiction and support their ongoing health and wellness.
Illinois fentanyl addiction treatment centers can provide several forms of therapy to help you through the recovery process:
Outpatient programs are typically provided after inpatient care or as a substitute for residential addiction treatment. Outpatient care can support clients on their path toward recovery while offering flexibility to simultaneously tend to their work, home or school obligations and receive addiction treatment.
And while addiction can reoccur, ongoing treatment methods can promote long-term sobriety and wellness. For instance, 12-step groups and other forms of group therapy can be extremely beneficial for many people suffering from fentanyl addiction. In these programs, you’ll gain the support and help from others to prevent relapse and achieve a better quality of life.
Seeking help for fentanyl addiction is one of the boldest decisions you can make, but you never have to approach it on your own. Rehab centers can provide the stability, support and confidence you need to beat addiction and achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle. Appreciate several benefits of fentanyl addiction treatment:
Having a support system greatly increases your chances of recovering from addiction. Group therapy and individual counseling offer a non-judgmental and compassionate environment to address your struggles. When you’re surrounded by others on the same path as you, you’ll feel less alone and more compelled to fight for your sobriety.
The sense of community you find at treatment centers can give you the confidence and encouragement necessary to face and overcome your addiction.
Many people who suffer from substance use disorder have unpredictable home lives and a lack of structure that cause them to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms. One of the greatest benefits of treatment facilities is the structure and accountability they provide.
In residential programs, you’ll appreciate around-the-clock supervision and care to help you avoid substance use triggers and stay sober. Peers will hold you accountable to maintain your sobriety and personalized care programs can provide much-needed structure and organization to aid in the process. Professionals will design your recovery path to reflect your needs and the level of care you need for a successful recovery.
Treatment facilities promote a healthier mind and body by providing several activities. You’ll gain the necessary resources to support your ongoing sobriety, such as healthy hobbies and tips to deal with stress and overcome substance use triggers. The recreational activities offered at treatment centers can include:
Many treatment centers have their own gyms and provide nutritious meals to help you improve your mood and curb drug cravings. By exercising and eating better, you’ll notice several positive physical and mental changes that can give you the confidence to continue down your recovery path.
You and your loved ones deserve better than lives controlled by fentanyl addiction. Call us today and start your recovery journey.
We’ll now answer a few of people’s most common questions about fentanyl addiction treatment.
An individual can test positive for fentanyl on a urine test between one and three days after last use. Hair tests can detect fentanyl use for up to three months after last using it. When fentanyl breaks down in the liver, it becomes norfentanyl, which can be detected for up to four days through urine, hair and blood tests.
The more fentanyl in the body, the longer it will take to entirely eliminate it. Further, the location of your fentanyl patch can determine the rate of absorption of the medication and affect how long fentanyl is present in the body.
The medical professionals at Gateway Foundation are highly trained to administer medications such as Vivitrol or Suboxone in medically-assisted treatment for fentanyl addiction. These medications can help alleviate the painful symptoms of withdrawal, safely taper the substances from a person’s body and aid in their process of healing from and overcoming substance use disorder.
Naloxone is a medicine that can treat a fentanyl overdose when administered immediately. It blocks the effects of opioid drugs, but since fentanyl is stronger than opioids like morphine, users might require several doses of the medication to treat a fentanyl overdose. Most states allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription, making it possible for friends, family members or community members to use the nasal spray version to save a life.
If you’re not sure someone is experiencing an overdose, administering Naloxone will not harm someone who isn’t overdosing, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Calling emergency services is essential regardless of the use of Naloxone to ensure the individual suffering an overdose receives the care they need.
While waiting for emergency services, monitor the individual’s breathing carefully and administer rescue breaths if they have labored breathing or have stopped breathing altogether. If they start breathing on their own, place them in the recovery position — on their side with their bottom arm extended above their head and their top leg slightly bent.
Addiction treatment measures success through much more than total sobriety — recovery is a lifelong journey. Everyone has a different experience when working on their addiction recovery, and some may need to undergo treatment several times to overcome substance use disorder.
Having a solid support system can significantly impact a person’s likelihood of beating addiction. Additionally, receiving help for co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety is essential for addiction treatment to work.
It’s essential to recognize the danger of fentanyl use when taking it long term. While addiction is complex and chronic, several treatment options can give you the care and support you need to recover from this disease.
The highly trained professionals at Gateway Foundation take the utmost care in providing compassionate and discrete addiction rehabilitation. Our all-encompassing treatment approach can help you maintain sobriety while improving your overall mental and physical well-being.
To learn more about our treatment programs, get in touch with us today.
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At Gateway, you can count on our 50 years of experience helping patients in the Chicago area. We support patients during and after recovery so they can experience the benefits of recovery for life. To schedule an appointment at one of our locations, contact us online today.