Fentanyl Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Fentanyl abuse is on the rise in the United States due to the ongoing opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine making it one of the most dangerous legal drugs of abuse.

What Is Fentanyl?

As a powerful synthetic opioid, Fentanyl is said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Since Fentanyl is a very potent drug, many medical professionals are likely to prescribe it to patients experiencing sudden pain from advanced cancer.

Those in the medical industry prescribe the drug with extreme caution, and tend to administer it only when the patient is already on other narcotic pain medications. Although effective as painkillers for people routinely taking other narcotics, Fentanyl is dangerously addictive for those using it without close medical care.

Fentanyl Is A Powerful Opioid

Like other opioids, fentanyl affects how the brain and nervous system work together. By binding to opioid receptors in the region of the brain that controls pain and emotions, fentanyl is likely to increase dopamine levels, or the brain’s reward areas. This creates a powerful state of euphoria and relaxation in the person that can be stronger than heroin.

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin

Due to Fentanyl’s potency, it is often mixed with heroin or other drugs, as a powder, to increase the drugs initial effect. On the street the following names may be used to describe the mix:

  • Tango and Cash
  • Apache
  • China Girl
  • Jackpot
  • China White
  • TNT
  • Dance Fever
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Gaining more and more traction on the streets, Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise. This is generally the case because more and more fentanyl is being illegally made and shipped to the United States, then sold like any other illicit drug. Since the drug is becoming more accessible, addiction is likely inevitable. What’s more, a typical person struggling with heroin or cocaine use may not even be aware they are taking fentanyl. This makes catching symptoms all the more important in order to stop addiction before it takes hold.

Potential Side Effects Of Fentanyl Use

Side effects caused by fentanyl include nausea, depression, confusion, and drowsiness. Keep an eye out for symptoms like stomach pain, constipation, changes in vision, irritation in the places where the drug was administered, and the sudden reddening of upper chest, neck, or face. Once a person builds a tolerance for fentanyl, the likelihood of overdose increases exponentially. This is especially true for people without the knowledge that they are taking this potentially lethal drug.

Fentanyl Dependence And Overdose Potential

With Fentanyl and other opioids on the rise in America, death for individuals suffering from abuse is a sobering possibility. Dependence – when the body is so used to the drug that not using it causes painful withdrawals – is likely to increase the chance of overdose. Overdose is especially worrisome because of the way the drug affects breathing. Once breathing becomes slow or shallow, the body can loose essential functions necessary to life, giving out altogether.

Treating A Fentanyl Overdose With Naloxone

For immediate treatment of a fentanyl overdose, Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug that can potentially reverse the effects of overdose and save a life. Of course, calling 911 is the first course of action. But, having access to Narcan in situations where fentanyl and other opioid use is suspected can combat the effects of the overdose and help restore essential life functions viciously stolen by the drug. Typically used as a needle or nasal injection, Narcan (commonly referred to as a “save shot”) comes in three common forms:

  • Auto-injector
  • Nasal spray
  • Nasal atomizer

The auto injector has a retractable needle that administers a single liquid dose. The nasal spray is easy to use and requires a simple squeeze at the bottom of the nozzle to release spray in one nostril. The nasal atomizer is more complicated to use and contains a white-coned nosepiece that will ultimately be used with the atomizer (which emits liquid spray) and a capsule containing the Narcan. It is extremely important to make sure you know how to use each of these devices before administering it, as proper use can be the difference between life and death.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Options

Besides waiting to act in the moment of overdose, there are countless avenues for treating fentanyl addiction. Various rehab programs are likely to provide safe and comfortable environments for you or a loved one to deal with the overpowering struggle of addiction. Which program you choose should be carefully thought out and based on individual preferences.

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The following are just a few examples of the variety of treatments available for opioid addictions:

  • Medication-assisted treatment is likely to help those with a strong dependence to fentanyl. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine can help wean a person off dependence and addiction and create the breathing room needed for total rehabilitation.
  • Outpatient treatment is a way to seek help and continue to live in the comforts of your own home. You can pick and choose the specifics of your treatment, from doctors and hospitals to group or individual therapy sessions.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment is another option. Instead of being at home, you’ll reside in a facility with other patients dealing with similar issues. This is potentially the most proactive way to seek help, as medical professional will likely be able to assist and treat you around the clock.
  • 12-Step recovery programs like Narcotics anonymous are a credible and effective treatment option to work through some of the more troubling psychological issues pertaining to fentanyl addiction. It may be a cliché, but being expressive and talking to others suffering from addiction is a method with a proven history success.

Get Help For An Addiction To Fentanyl Today

With all sorts of treatment options available, reaching out for help is the first step. Take action and call the number on the screen now. Fentanyl addiction can lead to fatal overdoses, physical dependence, and a low quality of life. If you or your loved one suffers from using fentanyl, do not hesitate to seek help. Call the number, be informed, and save lives in the face of our country’s widespread opioid epidemic.


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