What Is Fentanyl?
Being addicted to fentanyl is about as serious as substance abuse can get. It’s a synthetic opioid, which means it’s been created in a laboratory, and it’s mainly used to treat chronic pain associated with terminal cancer. At 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, the risks of dependency, harmful side effects and fatal overdose are also much higher.
Most street users use illegally produced fentanyl, as opposed to the prescription drug that’s offered to people suffering from severe pain. It works by attaching to opioid receptors, mimicking endorphins that block pain receptors and inducing feelings of euphoria and intense drowsiness. Fentanyl overdose is so common because a deadly dose is just 3 milligrams, and it’s popular among the drug users who are suspected to have the worst mental health.
Not only is it a scourge in its own right, but unscrupulous dealers mix it with cocaine and heroin to boost potency and increase profit margins and potential for addiction. Some people seek fentanyl out with the express purpose of administering the strongest drug available, while others get hooked inadvertently. Either way, you’re worthy of a stable and happy life, free from the confines of substance abuse and the mental and behavioral health issues that come along with it.
Brand Names and Street Names
Fentanyl has a few street names as well as brand names. Getting to know them could help you identify substances a family member is using or help you avoid this deadly drug yourself.
- China Girl
- Dragon’s Breath
- China Town
- Dance Fever
- King Ivory
- Great Bear
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
Harmful substance use almost always has an array of effects on the body, mind and behavior. While they might be subtle at first, over time it’ll become increasingly evident that someone has a fentanyl habit.
- Slow breathing
- Unsteady gait
- Sleep disturbances
- Slurred speech
- Loss of appetite
- Pinpoint pupils
- Dry mouth
Mental and Emotional
- Rationalization of addiction
- Mood swings
- Lack of routine
- Performance issues at work or school
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Starting arguments and deflecting issues away from yourself
Fentanyl has several forms when it’s prescribed in a hospital setting, including tablets, lollipops, lozenges, transdermal patches and intravenous. In some instances, the patches are chewed or eaten or illicit users get hold of the other clinical forms. However, in most cases, illegal fentanyl is distributed in powder form and is smoked, snorted or injected. In its pure form, it’s white, but impurities mean that it often gets sold as an off-white, tan or brown powder.
Risk of Overdose
Perhaps the scariest thing about fentanyl is the fact it carries such a high risk of overdose. With dealers cutting it with substances like cocaine and MDMA, the risk of death has significantly increased with these traditionally less harmful recreational drugs as well. Even if drug users in the U.S. aren’t actively seeking out fentanyl, they’re in a highly dangerous situation by putting something unregulated into their body.
All opioid drugs are physically addictive as well as causing psychological dependence. This means the body adapts to accommodate what it mistakenly processes as something it needs to function. While this only occurs after a period of sustained use with other substances, the potency of fentanyl means addiction is likely to happen almost instantly — and be particularly damaging to individuals who were already opioid-dependent.
Fentanyl withdrawal holds many of the people in the throes of addiction back from seeking the treatment they desperately need, which is why we’d always recommend that someone struggling with this debilitating disease attend a treatment facility. In addition to getting access to a ready-made support network, you get medication, support and therapy to help ease the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
- Joint pain
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Racing heart
- Rapid breathing
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
Onset of acute withdrawal symptoms usually occurs between 12 and 30 hours after the most recent dose of powdered fentanyl. Patches are an extended-release medication, so withdrawal symptoms may occur up to three days after removal. They usually peak between days two and four and start to taper off after a week.
For some people, mild symptoms continue for several weeks and then completely disappear, but for others, they persist for several months or even years. Therapy, support groups and making an effort every day to live a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to keep cravings and unhelpful feelings under control.
The Dangers of Fentanyl Withdrawal
When you stop taking fentanyl after dependency has taken hold, your body goes into shock because it mistakenly thinks it’s missing an essential substance. If you try to undergo the withdrawal process without medical supervision, your life could be at risk.
When Is Medical Attention Required?
Fentanyl is such a powerful substance that anyone who believes they’re dependent should seek medical attention. Care providers aren’t in their jobs to judge you or make you feel bad; they want to help you get better and live a more fulfilling life without the trauma associated with addiction.
Doctors can help you make an educated decision about whether to opt for medication-assisted treatment. They can also help you determine the length and type of treatment that’s most appropriate for your needs.
Types of Rehab Programs
The type of treatment recommended depends on the duration and severity of the opiate use disorder, as well as taking co-occurring mental health conditions into account. When it comes to fentanyl, detoxification is necessary in almost all instances, with medication playing a key role in managing withdrawal symptoms and staving off cravings.
Many people’s recovery journey looks like this: detox, inpatient rehab, stepping down to outpatient and finally remaining in some form of aftercare indefinitely. However, the road to recovery doesn’t look the same for any two people, and it’s not always linear.
Detox and MAT
During the initial stages of rehabilitation, the focus is solely on removing the harmful toxins from your body and easing the discomfort of withdrawal. Some light activity and gentle group sessions might also take place, but healing the body is the priority at this stage. It’s important to note that detox is by no means comprehensive treatment for addiction because it doesn’t help you address any of the underlying causes.
Residential rehab is usually the next step along the road to recovery for people struggling with an opioid use disorder. It provides the break necessary for many people to get out of the rut they got stuck in while in the throes of addiction. Not only does it remove them from the triggers and conflicts of daily life but it also takes away temptation and helps to kick-start a healthy daily routine. Many scientists agree that the foundation of a long, happy life is a set of intentional good habits you practice on a regular basis.
Partial Hospitalization Program
Some people might not be able to attend inpatient rehab for a variety of reasons. If this is the case, PHP is usually the best first step — although it can also serve as a step down from inpatient rehab. Programming is identical in residential and PHP rehab, but the difference is that clients sleep at home instead of at the facility in the latter.
Intensive Outpatient Program
An IOP is the next step down from a PHP. It might be appropriate for someone with a mild fentanyl use disorder, but in all likelihood it would be a step down from a more intensive care modality. Clients usually attend for a few hours a day, six days a week, for several weeks to a few months.
A general outpatient program is the final stage in the continuum of care, with patients attending for a few hours a week on an ad-hoc basis. It might be appropriate as a first step for sufferers of milder substance use disorders, but someone going through fentanyl addiction would likely require more attention than a GOP offers.
Therapy for Fentanyl Addiction
Therapy is an essential component of the recovery process. While there’s no single modality that’s been touted as a cure-all for addiction, a mixed approach seems to bear the most promising results. Different types of therapy work better for people from different backgrounds, with unique personalities and life histories. As such, it’s helpful to try as many styles as possible to find the mix that works best for you.
Individual therapy is particularly useful for giving you an outlet to express your feelings and have them validated and explored in a professional setting. You learn more about yourself, understand the value of living in the present moment and gain knowledge about what drives you to use drugs. Additionally, a therapist helps you devise a toolkit of specific ways you can cope with the feelings and triggers that drive you to use.
Group therapy is just as essential as one-on-one counseling in recovery from fentanyl addiction. You hear a broad range of different perspectives and learn from a host of stories, as well as getting a platform to express yourself and discuss your own experiences. A counselor guides the discussion, but in group sessions it’s all about empowering you to help yourselves and each other.
Addiction is often called a family disease because it has a seismic impact on the loved ones of the sufferer. There are often complex family histories in the backgrounds of addicted people, and getting guidance from a professional about communication, boundaries and healthy interaction can be life-changing for everyone involved.
Ongoing Addiction Treatment
Rehab isn’t the final destination for someone with a substance use disorder; it’s more like the foundation necessary for a healthy, sober life. You need to actively take what you’ve learned from addiction treatment and apply it in your daily life … forever. Don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to get support along the way.
- Sober Living: Sober living homes provide an environment that’s similar to living in a shared house in the outside world but with support and supervision from a team of specialists.
- Aftercare: All good rehab centers offer aftercare programs, where you stay in touch with the alumni from your group and regularly meet up for group sessions and fun events. Many clients make friends for life with the people they meet at Brookside Treatment.
- Narcotics Anonymous for Drug Addiction: For many people, 12-step meetings are essential components of ongoing recovery. As time passes, you start to become a role model for newer members, and you always have an understanding group to share your feelings with.
Cost of Fentanyl Rehab
Most people’s insurance policy covers some or all of the costs of opioid addiction treatment. As long as the provider is in-network or meets other criteria for eligibility, you could get a large portion of the fees covered by insurance.
Paying for an Addiction Treatment Program Without Insurance
If you don’t have an insurance policy, there are a number of ways to raise funds, such as:
- Reach out to friends or family members for a loan
- Health care loans or credit cards
- Charities that offer assistance for people struggling with addiction
Our Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Center
Brookside Treatment is a fentanyl rehab center in Kentucky that offers residential and outpatient programs to suit your unique needs and circumstances. Our highly trained team of addiction specialists can help you overcome the physical and mental barriers between yourself and sobriety.
For someone who’s caught up in the seemingly never-ending cycle of opioid addiction, substance abuse treatment is the best course of action. Call us today at 606-658-3078 to find out more.