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Checking For Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl Addiction in California & Addiction Treatment - Resurgence - An image of Fentanyl nasal spray that often leads to Fentanyl addiction in California.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a very strong type of opioid that is made by scientists in labs. Much like morphine, this medication is used to treat severe pain, or to manage pain after a surgery.

It is also sometimes used to help people who suffer from chronic pain and have become tolerant to other opioids.

In recent years, however, fentanyl has become a popular street drug for people looking to get high.

But because it is such a strong opioid, taking it comes with many risks, including addiction and even death.

Learn more about this serious addiction, as well as drug rehab resources to help you or your loved one overcome a fentanyl addiction.

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Understanding Fentanyl

While fentanyl is supposed to be used by prescription only, it has become a popular drug for people with existing opioid addictions. Fentanyl is between 50 and 100 times stronger than most opioids. Common street names for it include apache, china girl, china white, dance fever, friend, goodfellas, jackpot, murder 8, and tango & cash. When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch, or in cough drops. But illegal fentanyl is more often in a pill or powder form. The powder can then be dissolved in water, which is then taken orally, through the nose, or even injected. Sometimes it is mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. This can be very risky, as the dosage is unreliable and very little fentanyl can still cause an overdose.

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What are the Effects of Fentanyl?

Fentanyl gives users a high that is very similar to heroin. That is because fentanyl acts in the area of the brain that controls pain and emotions. When you take it, it makes your brain release a flood of dopamine, which is a “feel-good” chemical. This makes you feel very happy and relaxed. Your brain learns to associate fentanyl with positive feelings, and makes you crave it. This is what causes an addiction. Fentanyl use can cause a range of different effects on your mind and body, including:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Intense happiness
  • Nausea
  • Passing out

Fentanyl, along with other opioids, can also cause slowed breathing. When your breathing slows too much, you can end up suffering from something called hypoxia. Hypoxia is a condition where not enough oxygen reaches your brain. When this happens, you run the risk of causing brain damage, which may or may not go away. Hypoxia can also make you go into a coma, or even die if you stop breathing entirely.

How can you Abuse it?

Anytime that you take fentanyl without a prescription, this is considered abuse. But even if you have a prescription, it is possible to abuse it. This can include taking it more often than you are supposed to, or by taking higher doses. Regular opioid or heroin use causes your body to need more and more in order to feel high. The longer someone abuses opioids, the more likely it becomes that they will turn to fentanyl to keep getting high. But because it is so potent, it acts much more quickly in the body. This is what makes fentanyl so addictive. It also leaves your body much sooner, meaning the high does not last as long. People often resort to injecting it in order to get high more quickly, and the more you use it, the more your brain craves it. And when you are not using, you can feel depressed, anxious, or agitated. Because fentanyl is so much stronger than other opioids, it also carries a higher risk of overdose.

The Risk of Overdose

One of the biggest risks of taking fentanyl is having an overdose. Man-made or “synthetic” opioids like fentanyl have quickly become the most common drug causing overdose deaths in the United States. In 2010, just 14.3 percent of opioid overdose deaths were from fentanyl. Recently, it has been estimated that about 60 percent of opioid overdose deaths are now caused by fentanyl. An overdose causes a number of different symptoms, which can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Choking or gurgling noises
  • Confusion
  • Limp body
  • Pale skin
  • Passing out
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Very small or “dilated” pupils
  • Vomiting

If someone is experiencing an overdose on fentanyl, it is important that they get emergency care right away. Without treatment, the chances of dying are very high. Opioid overdoses can usually be reversed with a drug called naloxone, which most ambulances now carry because of the increase in opioid overdoses.

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How to Tell if Someone is Abusing Fentanyl

Fentanyl addiction is a very serious problem because the risk of overdose is so high. You may be worried that someone you know is abusing this drug. Knowing the signs that they may have a problem can help you decide if it is time to encourage them to get help. Here is what you can look for:

  • Behavioral changes, such as extreme lethargy, mood swings, withdrawing from family and friends, and engaging in risky behaviors like unsafe sex.
  • Psychological changes, such as problems concentrating or remembering things, confusion, disorientation, anxiety, depression, paranoia, or hallucinations.
  • Physical changes, such as falling asleep at inappropriate times, constipation, upset stomach, fainting, coughing, loss of appetite, paleness, sunken eyes, sores in the mouth, sneezing, and swelling in the hands, legs, or feet.
  • Negative life changes, such as losing their job, failing or dropping out of school, money issues, or relationship issues.

If you believe that someone you know is suffering from a fentanyl addiction, it is important that they get help. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we know just how serious fentanyl abuse can be. That is why we have many different treatment options available to create a personalized drug rehab experience for each of our clients.

Treatment Options for Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl is a very serious drug with very serious health consequences. The hardest part of overcoming an addiction is going through detox. Detoxing from all opioids can be difficult, but fentanyl detox can be worse because of how potent it is. The symptoms of withdrawal can include sweating, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, insomnia, body tremors, body aches, and more. At Resurgence, we recommend that clients who suffer from a fentanyl addiction try medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. This treatment combines medications and therapy to help people addicted to opioids. You will be given medications that help reduce your withdrawal symptoms as well as drug cravings. Once you are detoxed, we can address your addiction through therapy. We find great success in using cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. This form of therapy helps clients to see the patterns in their drug use, as well as the things that trigger them. Then we help arm you with the tools you need to avoid your triggers, as well as health ways to manage stress.

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Get the Help You Need From a Dedicated Team

The first step in your journey to overcoming your addiction is simple: contact us! At Resurgence, we pride ourselves on building an affordable, personalized recovery plan for each client – without sacrificing quality. Our free insurance verification allows us to help you figure out exactly what your insurance will pay for.

We accept most PPO insurance as well as private forms of payment for treatment. We will also communicate with your insurance provider to ensure that you receive every benefit that you are entitled to. You can complete a simple form right from our website, or call us directly.

At Resurgence, we believe that environment is just as important as treatment.

That is why our locations are in peaceful neighborhoods, with plenty of open space for clients to take time to themselves as well as participate in our supportive community.

Our warm, sunny weather, as well as our nearby beaches and parks, means that, when you are ready and able, you can enjoy being outside. And our specially prepared nutritious meals help to support your total physical recovery.

Opioid addiction can be a very difficult thing to overcome, but you do not have to try and do it on your own. Resurgence Behavioral Health’s team of dedicated addiction specialists can help you with every part of your recovery process, from detox to therapy, for a lifetime of success.

Let us help you with all of the tools and resources that you need to overcome your opioid addiction. Call us today to get started in a drug rehab program, and get on the path to a drug-free life.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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