Fentanyl Abuse

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Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is a prescription medication. It is manufactured both legally and illegally. Fentanyl is used to treat patients with severe pain, as it carries similar characteristics of morphine, but is between fifty to one hundred times more potent. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the names of the prescription form of fentanyl as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. The street names for illicit fentanyl include China Girl, Apache, Dance Fever, China White, Friend, Goodfellas, and Jackpot. The method of ingestion varies depending on whether fentanyl was prescribed by a doctor or acquired illegally. A doctor may administer fentanyl via a shot, a patch placed on an individual’s skin, or as lozenges. Illicit fentanyl is typically sold as pills resembling other prescription opioids, a powder, dropped on blotter paper, or as liquid in nasal sprays or eyedroppers. A synthetic drug, including fentanyl that is illegally manufactured is not regulated. This means that every batch of fentanyl that is illegally produced can be mixed with different additives (i.e. other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine…etc.), as the ingredients are completely up to each individual manufacturer. Therefore, every consumer of illicit fentanyl is at risk of overdose every time he or she ingests the drug, due to the fact that it is impossible to know the exact potency or potential additives in each batch, making it extremely dangerous. 

Side Effects and Symptoms of Fentanly Addiction

Every individual is different and will respond differently to ingesting fentanyl. Furthermore, the combination of possible side effects and symptoms will vary from person to person. Some of the commonly reported symptoms and effects of fentanyl use, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following examples:

  • Constipation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Elation 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sedation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach pain

It is important to note that a tolerance to fentanyl can be developed overtime. Certain contributing factors (i.e. personal health history, potency of substance, presence of additional co-morbid disorders, abuse of additional substances, duration of substance abuse…etc.) will play a part in the severity of symptoms presented. Hence, the potential side effects and symptoms will vary from person to person.

Treatment

The first step in treating fentanyl abuse or addiction is to undergo a detox process. This is the process that rids one’s body of any abused substance or substances. According to Addiction Center, the miserable withdrawal symptoms that can accompany detoxing from fentanyl are rarely life threatening. However, due to the fact that it is such an uncomfortable process, it is recommended to undergo the detox process in a supervised setting. Once the detox process is successfully completed, it can be helpful to attend some form of formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. 

There are a myriad of treatment options available including inpatient and outpatient programs. Inpatient programs offer an individual twenty-four-hour support, as they require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program. Inpatient programs generally last from twenty-eight days long to three months long in duration, and in some cases longer. Outpatient programs offer a more flexible option to individuals that are unable to commit to leaving their home for an extended period of time. Outpatient programs require an individual to be present at the substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment center for a certain number of hours, daily over a specified period of time, while residing at home. Outpatient programs typically last between fourteen days to three months long in duration. With the plethora of options available, it is important to select a program that best suits one’s needs. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.

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