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Fentanyl is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II substance, meaning it has “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
The drug is an incredibly potent, doctor-prescribed opiate painkiller that, when used as intended, is primarily for the relief of severe, end-of-life pain in cancer patients, according to information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Misuse of fentanyl for any other purpose therefore poses serious health dangers in the form of addiction and deadly overdose, as evidenced by the rising numbers in recent years of fentanyl-related deaths— the most famous of which was that of the pop star celebrity Prince in 2016.
If you’re wondering whether you need fentanyl detox, you have come to the right place. This article will educate you on:
- The addiction and overdose dangers of fentanyl
- How to determine whether you may be hooked, including telltale signs of fentanyl addiction
- The dangers of detoxing from fentanyl on your own
- How fentanyl rehab can help
How Addictive Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is much more potent than other addictive opiate drugs. That makes it extremely physically and psychologically addictive (not to mention deadlier than even heroin). Once experienced, the drug’s seductive high is very difficult to walk away from, leading over time to changes in brain chemistry that constitute the brain disorder known as addiction, for which treatment is the best hope of recovery.
The reason why fentanyl is so addictive has to do with how the drug works. Like other opiates, fentanyl binds to the brain’s μ-opioid receptor, flooding the brain with the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine. (It is this binding action that creates the addictive euphoria associated with fentanyl and other opiates.)
But fentanyl crosses the blood-brain barrier, initiating this binding process, far more rapidly than other opiates do. This makes the drug 50-100 times more potent than morphine and 40-50 times more powerful than heroin, with the result that a much lower dose of fentanyl is required to achieve the same euphoric high.
Am I Addicted to Fentanyl? Signs of Addiction
The fact that fentanyl is extremely addictive means that if you’re wondering whether you’re addicted to the drug, you probably are already experiencing some of these mental and physical side effects of fentanyl use:
- Tightness in the chest
- Depression and changes in mood
- Poor balance
- Muscle stiffness
- Changes in heart rate
- Labored breathing
- Pounding in the ears
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching and scratching
- Pinpoint pupils
- Abnormal thoughts
Other potential signs of fentanyl abuse and/or addiction may include:
- Buying fentanyl from people who have a legal prescription
- Opening up a fentanyl patch to eat its gel beads (in order to get high more quickly)
- Weight gain
- Getting panicky when your fentanyl supply runs low
- Sleeping all day
- Experiencing negative life consequences as the result of your fentanyl use (problems at home, work or school)
If any of the above signs of fentanyl addiction describe you, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone for a free consultation with one of our dedicated counselors. Your life is too precious to gamble on fentanyl.
Understanding the Risks of Fentanyl Overdose
Anyone who is wondering whether they need fentanyl rehab needs to understand the risks of overdose— and, that regardless of how they have been using fentanyl (whether for legitimate medical purposes or illegally as an effort to get high) they are susceptible to a deadly overdose.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl has driven an alarming rise in synthetic opiate overdose deaths in this country, according to statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For example, drug deaths involving fentanyl reportedly more than doubled between the years 2015 and 2016 alone. There are at least two explanations for this disturbing increase:
- Fentanyl mixed with other illicit or prescription drugs is an especially disturbing trend that is contributing to the rise in fentanyl-related deaths. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 2015 that illicitly sold fentanyl patches were being injected with heroin, liquid ecstasy, cocaine and other illegal and prescription drugs. (The potentially deadly side effects of fentanyl mixed with heroin or cocaine can include respiratory depression and coma.) As a result, Narcan, the life-saving drug intended to reverse fentanyl and other opiate overdoses, was not working as desired.
- Improper use of doctor-prescribed fentanyl is another contributor to fentanyl overdose, even in instances when the drug’s application is for appropriate medical purposes. It is not uncommon, for example, to fall prey to the assumption that if the patch is not working immediately in relieving pain, then it must be defective and a second patch is needed. The ensuing absorption of high amounts of fentanyl in the blood can prove fatal.
Any fentanyl overdose should be considered a life-threatening medical emergency. Immediate treatment in a hospital emergency room (ER) room or intensive care unit (ICU) is required.
Dangers of Detoxing from Fentanyl on Your Own
There are also dangers to detoxing from fentanyl on your own. The biggest of these: that the seemingly unbearable symptoms of withdrawal, while not usually fatal, may drive you back to the drug looking for relief, in a relapse overdose that ultimately proves deadly.
Other dangers of detoxing from fentanyl in severe, long-term cases of addiction can include:
- Extreme anxiety
- Vomiting (which can lead to dehydration, which can be serious)
How Fentanyl Rehab Can Help You
Fentanyl rehab is at least a two-step process that involves a medically supervised detox from the drug, immediately followed by 35-plus days of residential inpatient treatment. During detox, clients are closely monitored 24/7 for any complications during withdrawal. Where medically appropriate, they also receive a short-term course of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to relieve opiate cravings. The goal is to help you move safely and completely through withdrawal, so that you can successfully embark on the next phase of rehab (treatment), without fear of relapse or other medical dangers. For more information about a medically managed detox from fentanyl, consult this Fentanyl Detox Guide.
During the second treatment phase of a rehab program, clients take part in an intensive, daily routine of group and individual therapies that address the roots of their addiction, while living in a structured, drug-free environment that introduces them to the various components of a healthy recovery lifestyle.
Anyone, at any time, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality, or religion can find themselves vulnerable to the threat of addiction and overdose— especially when their drug of abuse is fentanyl. But fentanyl rehab can help you take back your life: it may even save it.
For more information related to fentanyl rehab, check out these articles:
- The Dangers of Drug Detox at Home and Quitting Cold Turkey
- How Fentanyl Became Deadly: The Deadly Crisis Affecting the Nation
- Addiction to Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Other Opiates: Warning Signs, Effects and Stats
- Alternative Methods for Managing Pain Without Opiates
- How Long Does It Take for Opiates to Leave Your System