Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is usually prescribed in order to treat severe pain. It is reserved for the most extreme circumstances, such as for people who have to deal with chronic pain as a result of cancer. It is much more powerful than other opioids and is considered to be almost 100 times stronger than drugs such as morphine and heroin, which are already powerful drugs in their own right.
Opioid use has become a pervasive phenomenon within the U.S. This is not only due to it being prescribed as a pain medication but also because a large portion of it is illegally produced and distributed as a recreational drug.
The widespread media attention over the harms of fentanyl drug use has largely focused on how it has been responsible for many overdose-related deaths, largely due to the fact that it is often cut with other drugs in order to increase its euphoric effects but which also exacerbates its potentially fatal side-effects.
Read more: Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Orange County
As with many other drugs, fentanyl also carries risks of physical dependence and addiction. As a result of this, many fentanyl users will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop their pattern of drug abuse, making their detox a much harder process. Here we will discuss the ins and outs of fentanyl withdrawal, and how you can make the process easier for yourself with medically administered withdrawal management.
Get help: Drug Rehab Orange County
Fentanyl Abuse and Dependence -the How’s and Why’s
Due to the damage that fentanyl can cause, there is a widespread need to inform people about the process by which fentanyl users become addicted and how they can eventually be able to escape their patterns of addiction. The Centers for Disease Control claims that over 150 people die per day as a result of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Unless you use chemical testing methods for drugs you ingest, there is no way of knowing whether they contain deadly levels of fentanyl which could prove fatal for you. For this reason, you should be informed of how to escape a dangerous cycle of addiction.
As with other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors. These are found in areas of the brain that deal with controlling pain, as well as emotions. People usually start abusing fentanyl because they chase the initial euphoric high it provides due to its chemical interactions with these opioid receptors.
However, once your body becomes accustomed to the presence of fentanyl, it mitigates its potent euphoric effect and makes you find it difficult to find pleasure elsewhere, which is what usually kickstarts the route to physical dependence.
Aside from the euphoria it creates, fentanyl creates a wide range of effects such as:
- Respiratory depression
All these unpleasant side effects can become visible from the very first dose that you take. While some may think that they are simply the price to pay for chasing a euphoric high, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how fentanyl can affect your body negatively.
How Abuse Leads to Addiction
As with other substances in the opioid family, physical dependence is a very real risk. Anyone who consumes opioid medication for a prolonged length of time is at risk of falling into a cycle of addiction that can ruin their life. Your individual biology, the amounts you consume, and the time period over which you consume it all play a role in how quickly this addiction forms. Fentanyl is considered particularly addictive due to its chemical potency.
The endorphins that are released through the chemical process that fentanyl acts out on your body means that you will end up chasing the pleasurable feelings it produces. When these feelings wear out you will find yourself wanting more, thereby starting your addiction process. Aside from an increased risk of overdose due to taking larger amounts of the drug in order to overcome your body's developing tolerance, it also puts you at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you quit.
You can spot fentanyl addiction in yourself or others with a few telltale signs:
- Using more fentanyl more frequently
- Taking larger doses
- Spending a lot of time thinking about fentanyl or how to get your hands on it
- Interpersonal problems
- Academic or professional difficulties
- Inability to complete other tasks
- Having constant cravings for fentanyl
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop
Being able to recognize these signs is the first step in finding help. As your addiction grows, so will your tolerance to fentanyl, which can lead to fatal results. Opioid use disorders can start to take full control over your life very quickly, especially if you are reckless with the amounts you consume.
Overdosing on Fentanyl
Overdosing on Fentanyl is a very real possibility and Fentanyl overdose carries the risk of a fatal outcome. It can cause your breathing to slow down and eventually stop completely. This can lead to a coma and eventually, death.
When considering the dangerous side effects of fentanyl abuse, please keep in mind that developing an addiction can lead to life-threatening outcomes. For this reason, proper medical detox should be your first step if you spot signs of fentanyl addiction in yourself.
How Do Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Affect You?
Once you become addicted to fentanyl and your body develops a physical dependence on the drug, then quitting is likely to result in a difficult withdrawal process. With the correct treatment however, it can be reduced in severity. Due to your brain having a physical need for fentanyl, physical withdrawal symptoms emerge when you quit as your body tries to function without it.
Signs and Symptoms
These fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are varied, but usually include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Dilated pupils
- Stomach cramps
Opioid medications such as fentanyl are guaranteed to produce these physical symptoms when opioid withdrawal eventually kicks in. Even the more innocuous withdrawal symptoms such as high blood pressure can be difficult to deal with and cause wide-reaching medical conditions.
The severity of the withdrawal process is dependent on several factors, mostly concerning how much you use and over how much time. In extreme cases, you are at risk of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which can last for months and can cause you to be cognitively and emotionally impaired.
Due to how uncomfortable and unpleasant these symptoms can be, they can discourage people from quitting. However, the good news is that you do not have to go through this process alone, and there are resources you can use to help you deal with the discomfort of fentanyl withdrawal.
The withdrawal timeline for an opioid medication is dependent on its half-life. By this we mean the amount of time it takes for half of it to be eliminated from your body. Fentanyl as a short-acting opioid has the capacity to induce withdrawal symptoms 8-16 hours from the time since the last dose.
Severe withdrawal symptoms can start to kick in within 36-72 hours after the last dose and can last up to a week. However, as previously discussed, there is a chance that fentanyl withdrawal can continue to affect you for as long as a few months.
Deciding To Detox
The good news is that opioid withdrawal does not have to be done alone. Rather than deciding to quit cold turkey and face the challenging fentanyl withdrawal symptoms that emerge as a consequence, there are ways to reduce their severity through proper opioid withdrawal management at a verified rehab clinic that conducts medical detox.
Withdrawal management can take on a few forms. Depending on your individual needs, as well as the severity of the withdrawal syndrome you can choose between inpatient and outpatient care. Inpatient care includes daily supervision and requires you to move into a treatment facility.
Related: Fentanyl Detox
In doing so you can focus solely on healing from your addiction, with a team of health care providers to assist you in tackling your substance abuse problems as a result of abusing opioid pain medication. You will also have access to a number of other treatment practices such as family therapy to make sure you do not lose your social support.
If you do not wish to live in a treatment facility you can also opt for an outpatient program wherein you can still live at home while you go through the withdrawal management process. This might be useful for people who still want the emotional support provided by their friends and family as they heal. Both of these options are available for those who choose medical detox.
Opioid withdrawal from opioid medications can be made much easier through these processes. Opioid withdrawal management not only gives you access to a wide range of treatment options but also reduces the chance of a relapse. Ideally, treatment should involve a mix of medication and counseling.
Medications such as methadone can be administered to bind with the same opioid receptors as fentanyl, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. In order for them to be effective however, they should be administered while undergoing psychological counseling that reinforces good behaviors and helps to manage the stress associated with getting sober.
Dealing With Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms at Cornerstone
If you abuse fentanyl, whether it be for dealing with chronic pain or for chasing an illicit high, there is a good chance you will become addicted. Addiction is a complicated medical condition, one that affects millions of Americans. There is no shame in it. A substance use disorder is simply a disease, and diseases need effective medical supervision and treatment.
Here at Cornerstone, we pride ourselves on the quality of our care. If you are trying to overcome the grip that opioids have on your life, then we should be your only option. We have a long history of helping people recover from the devastating impacts that addiction has, no matter whether it is due to alcohol, opioids, or other drugs. Your withdrawal symptoms may be stopping you from starting your journey to recovery.
With our assistance, you can recover in a comfortable manner, safe in the knowledge that we use the most modern treatment practices to make your withdrawal process as painless as possible, using effective medications and psychological rehabilitation to help you find yourself once more.
If you have decided that you have taken your last dose, and are sick of putting your life on hold due to your addiction, then we are here to help. Don't wait, choose Cornerstone. We are always ready to help.