Fentanyl Addiction Signs, Symptoms, Overdose & Withdrawal.
Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up FL is a primary mental health center offering co-occurring treatments. We treat the entirety of behavioral health disorders including their secondary corresponding illnesses to improve long-term recovery outcomes. Get a free mental health assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. Depending on the extent of secondary behavioral disorders such as addiction we can first help assess your condition and thereafter guide you to suitable treatment options.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a Schedule II prescription drug for treating severe pain, such as after surgery or during cancer treatment. On the other hand, fentanyl addiction can depress the respiratory system to the point of failure, leading to a fatal overdose. According to the US National Library of Medicine (1), Fentanyl may be habit-forming. Moreover, taking certain medications with fentanyl may increase the risk that you will develop serious or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma.
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Fentanyl Addiction Overdose
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, increased by over 16% from 2018 to 2019.
Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids were nearly 12 times higher in 2019 than in 2013. More than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2019. The latest provisional drug overdose death counts through May 2020 suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An overdose of fentanyl can overwhelm the central nervous system, disrupting the pathways that control heart function and breathing. Many people who overdose on fentanyl will fall asleep and never wake up. If someone at risk of a fentanyl overdose is breathing exceptionally shallow or slow, this is a warning sign that he or she may have overdosed.
Additional Signs Of Fentanyl Addiction Overdose
- Inability to talk
- Difficulty walking
- Constricted pupils
- Blue-tinted skin from lack of oxygen
Combining fentanyl with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids like heroin that have a similar effect on the central nervous system makes the risk of overdose even greater.
Forms of Fentanyl
Fentanyl takes many different forms to meet each patient’s needs. Some popular name brands and forms of fentanyl will include:
Commonly referred to as a fentanyl lollipop, it is administered under the tongue for quick pain relief. This form is used for patients who were already taking painkiller medication and have some military applications.
Coming in the form of a fentanyl patch, this type of fentanyl is prescribed to treat severe to moderate pain, with the effects lasting as long as three days.
This form is generally administered in hospitals, usually alongside anesthetics, and is taken through an injectable form. This form of fentanyl is used to manage pain before and after surgery.
This form of fentanyl is a sublingual spray that is administered under an individual’s tongue to deliver pain relief immediately. Its purpose is for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain.
Abstral is primarily used for opioid-tolerant patients who experience breakthrough cancer pain. This is a fentanyl pill form of a tablet that dissolves quickly by being placed under the tongue.
This form of fentanyl comes in a nasal spray, which is primarily used with cancer patients needing to treat their pain.
Fentanyl comes in more forms than almost any other prescription painkiller, including:
- Transdermal patches
- Sublingual dissolving tablets
- Nasal spray
- Injectable liquid
- Dissolvable film strips
Side Effects of Fentanyl Use
The euphoric and pain-relieving effects of heroin are one of the main reasons why people use the substance. In addition to these effects, using fentanyl can lead to a number of unpleasant changes in the mind and body. Depending on the individual and the dosage, the effects felt may be slightly different. The effects that one could anticipate are similar to heroin or other opioids and include:
- Drowsiness and sedation
- Stiff or rigid muscles
- Dependence and addiction
- Respiratory distress
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Slowed heartbeat
- Constricted pupils
- Physical weakness
Taking this drug repeatedly, whether as prescribed or for nonmedical reasons, increases the risk of addiction, dependence, and tolerance. However, a person who takes this medicine as instructed by their doctor, and with that doctor’s supervision, is less likely to develop fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl Tolerance and Dependence
Fentanyl affects the central nervous system to a significant level, producing excess amounts of dopamine to overwhelm and chemically alter the brain over time. Because of these neurochemical shifts, someone prescribed fentanyl might become dependent on the drug and turn to illegal methods of getting it after consuming their prescribed amount.
Tolerance and dependence may still occur, even with a prescription from a doctor. Tolerance means the body needs more of the drug to create the same effect. Dependence means the brain needs a certain amount of the drug to reach balance. The side effect of both tolerance and dependence is withdrawal. Given that, a physician will likely taper the person off fentanyl or substitute it with another drug.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms make the person very uncomfortable. Consequently, their cravings to use fentanyl will worsen as they become hopeless to make the withdrawal symptoms stop. However, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be lessened or avoided for the users that are ready to receive help from a fentanyl addiction detox treatment program.
Withdrawal symptoms are most intense in the first few days off of the drug but will begin to level out in a week or so. Because they can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, a person should not attempt to go through the withdrawal process alone. Often, withdrawal symptoms lead someone to take more of the drug, which worsens their dependence and fentanyl addiction.
Furthermore, someone who is physically dependent on fentanyl will experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop taking it.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Afet Fentanyl addiction appears Withdrawal, its Symptoms may be:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain
- High blood pressure
- Elevated heart rate
- Stomach cramps
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms are most intense in the first few days off of the drug but will begin to level out in a week or so.
- 12-36 hours – Withdrawal symptoms begin to appear.
- 48-72 hours – Withdrawal symptoms peak
- 5-7 days – Symptoms begin to taper off
Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl is addictive because of its potency. A person taking prescription fentanyl can experience dependence. Being able to identify fentanyl addiction is crucial in addressing the opioid crisis and preventing overdoses. Unfortunately, many patients who are using fentanyl do not know that it can be addictive. A common misconception is that opioid pain relievers, especially synthetic ones, are not addictive. In reality, the signs of addiction to all opioids are often the same. These include things like:
- Prescription shopping
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Taking greater and greater amounts to achieve the same effects
- Using illicit fentanyl
- Having drug paraphernalia (lighter, spoon, foil, syringe, belt, or band)
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Fentanyl addiction recovery is more than stopping using drugs because it is an ongoing process of growing and healing-mentally; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Secondly, recovery is a process, but one that begins with detoxing the body from the presence of any drugs and continues indefinitely. Following a detox program, other levels of care provide continued physical and emotional support to those in recovery. Recovery programs also help clients develop tools and coping mechanisms for fentanyl relapse prevention.
The first step for clients struggling with fentanyl addiction is to complete a fentanyl detox program. Detox involves processing any drugs in their system and allowing the mind and body to return to their normal way of functioning. The detox process will look different for everyone because how long fentanyl stays in your system can vary. For some, it may require medical assistance due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, there are two general approaches to detoxing from fentanyl: going “cold-turkey” or weaning off the drug over an extended period of time (typically a few months).
Given that, through the admissions process, our team at We Level Up Florida is working to determine the severity of a client’s fentanyl addiction and dependence, as well as any unique factors that may influence their recovery process. With this information, they will ensure admission to the most beneficial treatment facility, help with travel arrangements, and develop a personalized treatment plan.
Benefits of An Inpatient Detox Program for Fentanyl Addiction
- 24/7 medical observation
- Luxury facilities & amenities
- Medication assistance for withdrawal symptoms
- Nutritional supplements provided to support detox
- Access to alternative detox therapies
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl is the most potent opioid on the market, and withdrawal can include severe cravings. Because of these severe cravings and other intense withdrawal symptoms, some addiction treatment professionals will offer a medication-assisted treatment program. This method of treatment allows clients to be weaned off of opioids with the use of medications that act on neurotransmitters in the same manner as for fentanyl.
Subutex, or buprenorphine, is a medication used during opioid detox to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms and suppress cravings. To clarify, this is a short-term medication and is only used under close observation.
Similar medications, methadone, and Suboxone can be prescribed to patients on an outpatient basis. They allow a long-term detox process in which the goal is for the individual to be slowly weaned off of the medication. Many people advocate for these medications because they prevent opioid overdose-related deaths for individuals who have struggled with recurrent relapses. On the other hand, others are opposed to the use of these medications because they also carry a risk of addiction.
So, in order to ensure the success of individuals seeking recovery at We Level Up FL, we provide the safest medication-assisted treatment to those who are good candidates, and we ensure close medical observation throughout the length of treatment. We also offer an array of alternative therapies to assist those that are not good candidates or opt-out of MAT.
Find the Right Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
The inpatient treatment approach works best as it aims to change the person’s behaviors. Also, it helps the clients establish social support systems and better methods so that they can cope with stress even after the rehab. Above all, your lifelong sobriety is our utmost priority.
You will likely experience many different side effects or withdrawal symptoms because of your drug use. Then, these side effects may be emotional, physical, or mental. For example, someone in withdrawal will likely experience many uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox. Unfortunately, for those with dependency, detox is an unavoidable first treatment step for Fentanyl Addiction.
Please, do not try to detox on your own because of your doubts and fear of withdrawal. Generally, the detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment.
So, reclaim your life today, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Above all, our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up West Palm Beach Rehab. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.
 US National Library of Medicine – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605043.html
 CDC– https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00413.asp
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