Inducing patients with a sense of euphoria and relaxation, Fentanyl is far more potent than similar drugs such as morphine and heroin.
Due to its intensity, abuse of this drug can quickly turn into a severe addiction. Fentanyl is one of the only painkillers that can be prescribed long-term, furthering the possibility of addiction.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is part of the opioid family and is a synthetic pain reliever that’s prescribed. Typically, it is used for acute and chronic pain treatment, including cancer treatment and post-surgery recovery. Under certain prescriptions, it can be used in duality with other drugs, such as high doses of morphine or oxycodone when patients are still experiencing pain.
Fentanyl is produced in different ways and can be taken through a variety of methods. These include patches, lozenges – often called lollipops, nasal sprays, or injectable forms.
Is Fentanyl Addictive?
Fentanyl has a similar delivery mechanism to heroin, producing a rush of similar results, however, Fentanyl is 100 times more potent, making it far more addictive, and much more dangerous. Tolerance may be quickly established, leading to the user taking higher dosages than prescribed, or seeking a greater rush if taking the drug illicitly.
Fentanyl dependence can set in regardless of whether a person is taking the drug medically, with a valid prescription, or if someone is taking it illegally and recreationally.
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The Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a very dangerous substance, and this has been heavily documented in North America, where Fentanyl abuse and consequential deaths have soared in recent years, particularly from illicit Fentanyl use.
One of the biggest demographics that abuse Fentanyl includes individuals who were prescribed the drug for pain. Over time, patients may begin to misuse the drug by taking it more often than prescribed believing that it will be more effective.
Because Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors, increasing the production of dopamine which incites happiness and deep relaxation, the targeted opioid receptors that also regulate many important body functions may be affected, which can cause issues with breathing.
Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose
It’s important to be aware of the danger of overdose when abusing Fentanyl, and overdose may occur quickly, without the euphoric effects that tend to occur pre-emptive to an overdose when taking other drugs. A Fentanyl overdose can happen very suddenly due to its high potency. Clear symptoms of overdose to look out for include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme fatigue or sleepiness
- Trouble with cognition or memory
- Stumbling, inability to walk, or loss of coordination
- Contracted pupils
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
Signs of addiction to Fentanyl include an increased need to take the drug, with the user perhaps increasing doses to sustain its effects.
Certain symptoms can indicate that someone is struggling with Fentanyl addiction, these include:
- Taking the drug without a prescription
- Increasing your prescribed dose
- Finding yourself unable to function without taking Fentanyl
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as weakness, vomiting, constipation and sweating.
- Inability to perform your daily tasks at home or work
- Severe mood swings
- Loss of appetite/Dry mouth
- Tremors, Trouble sleeping, Itchy skin
A worrying, but less common side effect of Fentanyl addiction is visual or auditory hallucinations. Most commonly, users will hear voices that don’t exist. Other auditory hallucinations include hearing music or clapping when it’s not there. Some users may experience visual hallucinations, picturing objects, or people that aren’t in front of them.
Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect
Withdrawal symptoms from Fentanyl can manifest in an array of ways, both physiological and psychological. Fentanyl withdrawal syndrome typically begins around 12-30 hours of the last dose and tend to peak in the first few days of withdrawal, levelling off after a week or so.
A Fentanyl user may experience a range of physical manifestations when they are withdrawing from Fentanyl use. These are often flu-like, but far more extreme and wide-ranging. This array of physical symptoms include:
- Runny nose/Chills
- Stomach cramps/Joint and muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated heart rate/Hypertension
- Increased respiratory rate, Pupil dilation
The psychological symptoms of Fentanyl withdrawal can be intense, due to the drug’s high potency. These symptoms can vary, but mainly include:
- Fentanyl withdrawal can even result in the onset of anorexia
Unintentional overdose is a common occurrence when taking Fentanyl illegally due to high dosages without realising it.
Initial symptoms when overdosing on Fentanyl may include:
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Trouble breathing, cold, clammy skin
- Unresponsiveness to pain
- Difficulty responding to conversation
Getting Help for Fentanyl Addiction
It’s important to seek help for Fentanyl addiction and going to a trusted treatment provider is the best way of doing this. An inpatient treatment programme facilitates recovery by targeting the array of issues that may have contributed to Fentanyl addiction, whilst also conducting a safe, supervised medical detox from the drug, so you can go through the withdrawal process as comfortably as possible.
Castle Craig provides an inclusive, caring environment that promotes whole well-being throughout the recovery process.
Residential Rehab for Fentanyl Addiction
Castle Craig offers a world-renowned service for addiction, treating a range of addictions, including vast experience with Fentanyl addiction.
At Castle Craig Rehab we offer an integrated program for Fentanyl detox and addiction to Fentanyl medication such as Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze. Each patient works on their treatment plan with their therapist.
Our detox is medically always supervised and ensures patient care and comfort. Our primary aim is the comfort of the patient, making them feel at ease, with round the clock care.
Our treatment is evidence-based, and our independent outcomes studies provide further evidence that our treatment works for most patients, with 91.8% of our 2015 cohort questioned either living with reduced alcohol or drug use or abstinence after 1 year.
Alongside a supervised medical detox and a specific treatment plan, Castle Craig works to address emotional and psychological issues, that may have contributed to Fentanyl abuse. Getting to the stem of where addiction arose is important in reducing the risk of relapse, as we work with you to build positive new mechanisms, giving you the best chance of recovery.
Castle Craig and You: Beginning Your Journey to Recovery
Addiction is an incredibly hard and challenging time for yourself and those around you. Castle Craig recognises how scary it can be to seek help and we pride ourselves on providing an entirely non-judgemental environment. Our staff give the highest level of support and care, as they are trained and equipped to focus on more than just the addiction, providing a holistic approach to your recovery and aftercare.
If you are suffering from Fentanyl addiction, or know someone who is, get in touch, and find out how you can begin your journey to recovery.