Fentanyl is classified as an opioid. An opioid is a natural or synthetic compound derived from the opium poppy plant. An opiate is a naturally occurring compound derived from the plant, such as morphine. Fentanyl, on the other hand, is synthetically derived. Opioids bind to specific receptor sites in the brain and signal an inhibitory response. This “inhibits” the pain and also releases endorphins. For this reason, it is also classified as a narcotic analgesic, or pain reliever. Fentanyl works quickly, however, and does not last for a long length of time, often less than a few hours. It can be administered orally, through transdermal means (through the skin), or injected. Fentanyl can be more than a few thousand times stronger than morphine and is one hundred times stronger than heroin! This makes fentanyl addiction a serious threat.
Fentanyl abuse and addiction will have symptoms similar to other opioids. These are lethargy, stupor, ecstasy, and dizziness. Some users will also experience problems urinating and releasing bowels, reduced respiration, headaches, nausea/vomiting, and weight loss. Other symptoms include itching, vision and mood problems, edema, hallucinations, nightmares, sleeplessness, perspiration, unsteadiness, dry mouth, and loss of desire for food. The body is able to easily develop a tolerance to fentanyl so that the individual needs an increased dose of the drug to achieve the same high. Fentanyl can create both a physical and psychological addiction and an individual can have one or both.
Fentanyl withdrawal can have its own set of side effects. Those similar to addiction or abuse are perspiration, sleeplessness, and nausea and vomiting. Other effects are bodily chills, apprehensiveness, irritability, pain in various bodily parts, stomach cramps, restlessness, yawning, watery eyes and runny nose, weakness, and high blood pressure among others.
There are different types of treatment centers and plans that cater to individuals and lifestyle needs with various modalities of treatment. Each of these centers has their own pros and cons for recovery.
It is important to seek medical help for treating a fentanyl addiction. Bodily processes of an individual using drugs need to be monitored when going through withdrawal, such as observing blood pressure and respiration rate. As fentanyl is a very potent opioid, there may be a need for pain management when withdrawing from the drug. In some clinics, this pain management is done through the use of other controlled drugs, or slowly tapering one off of fentanyl. Other facilities may offer the option of fentanyl withdrawal, but do not choose to utilize the use of other controlled drugs. The fentanyl withdrawal process is still managed though, through other means. Additionally, if a relapse occurs, there is a potential for overdose or death, which could occur if smaller amounts than previously used are used again.
Other important reasons to seek medical help could be the potential need for treatment of underlying conditions or diseases that resulted from use of fentanyl or those that may occur through withdrawal. Furthermore, components such as other substance abuse, or history of mental health or family disorders, may need to be assessed and incorporated into treatment.
Physical detox occurs first and then is followed by counseling and other methods, which are used in psychological detox and treatment. This monitoring of the detoxification is a continuous process, especially during the physical weaning, where the individual is usually monitored at all hours of the day. The detox process is usually completed in less than ten days.
After the initial medical detox or a managed detox, the next stage is often inpatient or outpatient rehab. One is more medically focused, whereas the other is counseling based and the length of times may differ. During rehabilitation, many different counseling modalities may be used.
After detox or inpatient rehabilitation, then some form of outpatient care will definitely need to be introduced. With outpatient care, people frequently consult with their therapists and groups to continue recovering and create a regular schedule for assessing recovery and relapse potential. The final step of treatment and the first step of independent recovery is aftercare. This includes joining groups to cope with the addiction/previous addiction and continuing therapy and utilizing various positive supports.
Fentanyl is a very strong drug that has the potential to destroy lives. Without help or rehabilitation, it can be very difficult to quit. Trained professionals can help make fentanyl withdrawal much easier to withstand and the potential for relapse much lower. Treat fentanyl addiction as soon as possible, while you still can!
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