30
Nov

Silent Killer: Disturbing Facts About Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used both medically and illegally in the United States. Patients enduring breakthrough pain as a result of cancer treatment or other serious medical conditions may be prescribed fentanyl by their doctors. However, fentanyl’s potent sedative effects have also made it a popular choice for those seeking a recreational high.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl possesses an exceptional potency that surpasses heroin by up to 50 times and morphine by an astonishing 100 times. It is also responsible for a staggering amount of overdoses in the country.

With this in mind, why is the use of fentanyl still widespread, and what do we need to do to combat fentanyl addiction? Raising awareness about this substance is a good starting point, and here is what you need to know.

What Is Fentanyl?

Pharmaceutical Fentanyl

Fentanyl first emerged onto the medical scene in 1959 and swiftly gained recognition in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic.

At present, this particular substance is being lawfully produced and distributed within the United States. It is classified as a highly potent synthetic opioid medication that has obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its primary purpose is to provide effective pain relief and serve as an anesthetic agent.

Illegally Made Fentanyl

Illegally manufactured fentanyl (IMF) can be found within the illicit drug market, offered in various forms such as liquid and powder.

It is quite common for individuals to combine fentanyl powder with substances, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, or transform it into pills that bear a striking resemblance to various prescription opioids. 

The liquid form of IMF can be conveniently encountered in various everyday products, such as nasal sprays and eye drops, and even applied onto paper or small candies.

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

The most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdoses have been found to be associated with the illegal production of fentanyl. These products are distributed through illegal drug markets, primarily due to their heroin-like effects. Because of its potency, fentanyl is frequently combined with other drugs, resulting in products that are powerful yet cheaper to acquire. However, it is important to note that this combination also increases the overall risk of fentanyl addiction.

The presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs poses a grave and imminent threat to individuals, as it significantly amplifies the risks of substance abuse. A considerable number of people may unknowingly consume drugs, whether in powder or pill form, that have been contaminated with fentanyl. Additionally, it is not uncommon for individuals to accidentally underestimate the amount of opioids they are consuming, which can lead to a potentially dangerous overdose

Effects of Fentanyl

Just like other opioid analgesics, fentanyl brings about a range of effects that can be both soothing and pleasurable. These effects include relaxation, a sense of euphoria, relief from pain, and a calming sedation. However, it can also lead to confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, and feelings of nausea and vomiting. Additionally, fentanyl may cause urinary retention, narrow the pupils, and even depress the respiratory system.

Excessive fentanyl consumption can lead to an overdose, which includes symptoms such as loss of consciousness and difficulty breathing that can ultimately result in a fatal outcome. It’s crucial to be aware of these risks and seek immediate medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

What Prescription Drugs Contain Fentanyl?

The use of fentanyl carries inherent risks, making it critical to adhere strictly to prescribed dosages and follow the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. Here is a list of brand-name prescription drugs that contain fentanyl:

  • Abstral®
  • Actiq®
  • Duragesic®
  • Ionsys™
  • Sublimaze®

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

Fentanyl can typically be detected in a urine test within 24 to 72 hours after its last use. Hair tests have the ability to detect fentanyl in a person’s system for a period of up to 3 months. On the other hand, blood tests can detect the drug within a range of 5 to 48 hours after its use, with the specific duration depending on the dosage taken.

How Fentanyl Addiction Develops

Due to the high risk for fentanyl addiction, the drug is usually only approved for short-term use when prescribed. Chronic pain is typically not commonly treated by fentanyl unless there are specific situations like traumatic injuries where other opioids, such as morphine, may not effectively alleviate the pain.

Even when someone follows their doctor’s instructions and takes prescription fentanyl, they may still develop dependence. Dependence means that if they suddenly stop taking the drug, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. While dependence on a substance does not necessarily signify addiction, it can sometimes progress into addiction.

Even with little exposure, fentanyl addiction can develop rapidly, as it alleviates pain and induces a false sense of “happiness” by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain. Over a period of time, the body may develop a reliance on fentanyl in order to maintain normal functioning, resulting in the development of addiction.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Individuals who have developed fentanyl dependence or addiction may experience significant withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue its use. These symptoms can manifest as early as a few hours after the last dose of the drug.

These symptoms may include:

  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain
  • Disordered sleeping
  • Digestive issues (including nausea and vomiting)
  • Sudden chills 
  • Erratic, involuntary movements
  • Cravings for the drug

If you or someone you know may be suffering from the effects of fentanyl addiction or dependence, Birmingham Recovery Center provides compassionate, open-minded care that prioritizes your needs and well-being in a discreet and comfortable setting.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction in Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Recovery Center is a reputable organization that offers individualized care for individuals who have been affected by fentanyl addiction and dependence.

Our recovery center in Birmingham, AL, offers personalized services to fentanyl rehab clients from all walks of life, supported by a team of committed professionals in a warm and encouraging environment. 

To learn more about our programs and the specific services we offer, reach out to our caring team today for more information.

Author

  • Ian Henyon, LPC

    Having worked in a variety of clinical settings since 2008, Ian brings well over a decade of treatment center experience to the leadership role at Birmingham Recovery Center. As Executive Director, he is responsible for all aspects of BRC’s operations and provision of services. Being firmly grounded in the notion of servant leadership, Ian is focused on establishing a supportive work environment as a foundation for providing superior clinical services to BRC’s clients. Ian combines his extensive knowledge of treating addiction and psychiatric illness with the recognition that addiction is a disorder of the brain, to ensure that all clients are treated with the highest levels of respect and compassion. Ian is a licensed professional counselor. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and he received a Master of Science degree from Prescott College.

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    Author

    • Ian Henyon, LPC

      Having worked in a variety of clinical settings since 2008, Ian brings well over a decade of treatment center experience to the leadership role at Birmingham Recovery Center. As Executive Director, he is responsible for all aspects of BRC’s operations and provision of services. Being firmly grounded in the notion of servant leadership, Ian is focused on establishing a supportive work environment as a foundation for providing superior clinical services to BRC’s clients. Ian combines his extensive knowledge of treating addiction and psychiatric illness with the recognition that addiction is a disorder of the brain, to ensure that all clients are treated with the highest levels of respect and compassion. Ian is a licensed professional counselor. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and he received a Master of Science degree from Prescott College.