Fentanyl Detox and Addiction Treatment
Because synthetic opioids are so deadly, it’s imperative that anyone regularly using drugs like fentanyl undergo medical detox and addiction treatment as the first step on the road to recovery.
When most people think of opioids, they think of substances like heroin and pain-relieving pills like oxycodone and codeine — drugs encompassing two of the three main opioid types. Natural opiates are chemical compounds derived from plants, while semi-synthetic/humanmade opioids are lab-created concoctions utilizing natural opiates.
The third of the opioid types, synthetic opioids, are completely devoid of natural opiates. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are entirely manufactured, often go unlabeled or mislabeled, and are more potent than most people can imagine. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
While pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors and used to address severe pain, experts link illicitly manufactured fentanyl to the majority of overdose deaths. Fentanyl overdose deaths continue to increase. The most recent CDC data finds overdose deaths from synthetic opioids – primarily fentanyl – rose from about 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.
Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?
Because fentanyl is a pain reliever or analgesic, it’s intended to relax the body. However, those using it illicitly are seeking the euphoric sensations or sedation the drug can deliver. Fentanyl often causes temporary euphoria that is intense but short-lived. The drug may also have potentially dangerous effects like slowed or shallow breathing, reduced blood pressure, nausea, fainting, and seizures. Even in extremely small doses, fentanyl can be deadly — more than 150 people die each day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In addition to the potency, another dangerous aspect of fentanyl is that it’s commonly mistaken for other drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Illegal drug manufacturers often lace drugs like heroin with fentanyl, to increase potency and make their products go further. Because synthetic opioids have no taste or smell, the user has no way of knowing whether the product they purchased contains unexpected, often lethal, amounts of fentanyl.
A tiny amount of fentanyl can kill. To provide some context around the dangers of fentanyl, Stat News posted a picture of two equally lethal doses of heroin and fentanyl. The vial with heroin has a very noticeable 30 milligrams, while the fentanyl vial contains 3 milligrams, or what appears to be just a few grains of sand.
How Fentanyl Works and Why One Becomes Addicted
Like other drugs of its class, fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors, a grouping of receptors found in the brain, spinal cord, and throughout the body that controls how our body feels and reacts to pain. Regularly taking drugs of any kind, including fentanyl, contributes to the buildup of a tolerance. That means sensitivity is diminished, and more of the drug must be consumed in order to receive the same feeling, which leads to dependence.
What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Use and Abuse?
As mentioned, fentanyl use is associated with euphoria, drowsiness, and lethargy, but there are a number of other undesirable side effects a person can experience when using and abusing fentanyl. Using the drug often results in dizziness or lightheadedness, severe constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, hallucinations, sweating, swollen extremities, cold and clammy skin, unresponsiveness, and more.
Warning signs that an individual is addicted to fentanyl, or another addictive substance may include:
- The inability to control substance use
- Drowsiness, weight loss, flu-like symptoms, lack of hygiene
- Withdrawing from social activities and isolating from loved ones
- Prioritizing obtaining and using the drug over negative consequences
- Committing unethical or illegal activities like theft or fraud to obtain and use the drug
Quitting Fentanyl and the Detox Experience
If someone addicted to an opioid like fentanyl, abruptly stops using the drug they will experience withdrawal symptoms that can be severe. Symptoms may include cravings, sweating, restlessness, irritability, nausea or vomiting, digestion issues, muscle spasms, and other discomfort.
With opioid withdrawal, early or mild symptoms can start within 12 hours from the last use. Over the course of the next few days, those symptoms will intensify — especially the craving to use — which is why so many people struggle with quitting opioids. Because detoxing can be uncomfortable and dangerous most experts recommend medical supervision throughout the process.
Medical detox facilities employ licensed healthcare professionals who provide 24/7 care and supervision, supporting the person’s needs as they rid their body of the drug in a safe and comfortable environment. Medical personnel can also administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
What to Expect During Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Detox and treatment work in lockstep to not only help the patient safely stop using in the moment but to set them up for future success. Treatment typically includes a variety of strategies that aim to address the root cause of fentanyl addiction and often include medication and behavioral therapies.
Behavioral therapy can include both one-on-one talk therapy sessions between the patient and a therapist as well as group sessions where others walking a similar recovery path gather to support, encourage, and learn from one another. Quality treatment centers often offer family therapy, life skills training, and aftercare programs to help the patient achieve long-term recovery once formal treatment has been completed.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment at Midwest Recovery Centers
At Midwest Recovery Centers our innovative multi-phasal transitional recovery program has helped countless individuals reclaim a healthy, sober life.
The first phase encompasses individual and group therapy sessions, 12-step meetings, medical supervision, and closely monitored activities. The second phase includes more freedom, allowing the patient to begin to transition to a more “normal” lifestyle while still continuing some of the therapy sessions and 12-step meetings.
If detox is needed prior to beginning our multi-phasal transitional recovery program, Midwest Recovery Centers has an expert-led detox program that features constant medical supervision.
When you’re ready to learn more, we’re always here to help. You can reach us at 855-962-4205 at any time.