Addiction to, and overdose on, fentanyl is a growing problem throughout the United States. Over two million people a year abuse opioids and many eventually turn to fentanyl to get high.1
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic opioid. It’s over 50 times more potent than morphine and is typically prescribed to patients suffering from chronic pain who have become tolerant to other medications.
Fentanyl is prescribed under close medical supervision and comes in several different forms including2:
- Transdermal patches
- Dissolvable tablets
- Oral or nasal sprays
- Dissolvable film strips
Many people using heroin unknowingly take fentanyl, which is often used for lacing the recreational drug.
Why Is Fentanyl So Addictive?
Like other opioids, fentanyl binds to the opioid receptors of your brain and central nervous system, triggering a release of dopamine. When taken at high enough doses, fentanyl produces feelings of euphoria and sedation in its users.
People who abuse the drug for its high or painkilling effects may quickly develop tolerance and dependence on the drug. This makes you feel like you need more fentanyl with each dose to get the same effect and leaves you incapable of functioning without it.
This can quickly spiral into full-blown addiction, leaving you with intense cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms should you try to quit.
What Are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction?
Using fentanyl can result in a variety of behavioral and physical effects, including:
- Obsession with and intense cravings for the opioid
- Being unable to stop using fentanyl when you want to
- Antisocial behavior
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained itching
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
The effects of fentanyl withdrawal may vary in intensity depending on how long and how much of the drug you’ve been using.
The most common symptoms include3:
- Mood swings
- Body pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated heart rate
Fentanyl Treatment Options
Fentanyl rehab involves a medical detox followed by an inpatient or outpatient recovery program.
Quitting fentanyl cold turkey without medical supervision is not recommended.
Why Experts Recommend Medical Withdrawal
Fentanyl detox can produce intense withdrawal symptoms that can severely test your resolve against relapsing.
Fentanyl lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. If you quit cold turkey, your vitals may skyrocket, and extreme hypertension can result in a heart attack or stroke.
Detoxing from fentanyl will be done through tapering or gradually reducing your dose until you can stop entirely. Your doctor can also prescribe fentanyl withdrawal drugs to substitute fentanyl during your detox.
These medications include buprenorphine and methadone, which can help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse.
Once you’ve gone through a complete detox from drugs, you must attend a more long-term recovery center. Relapsing and using fentanyl at the exact dosage you did before could cause a fatal overdose, as it has for many Americans since its introduction into the recreational market.
If you or someone you know is suffering from withdrawal, we can help. Call our hotline today (833) 489-5577 for the assistance you need.