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Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment

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Understanding Fentanyl

In recent years, the misuse of fentanyl has become a serious issue. While originally created as prescription drug also known as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®, the illegal use and abuse of fentanyl is increasing every day. According to https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl, “Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.”

How Fentanyl Affects Your Brain

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl affects your brain in such a way that it controls both your pain and emotions. While this may help those who have a prescription for it to treat or address serious medical issues, these qualities make it dangerous and deadly when being misused Specifically, the mixing of fentanyl with illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA continues to result in many deaths around the country. Many are not even aware that the drug they purchased contains fentanyl, which consequently greatly increases the risk of overdose.

Fentanyl Addiction

As cited by the American Psychological Association and According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s work on Opioid Use Disorder, “Fentanyl is the most prevalent and the most significant synthetic opioid threat to the United States.” Because of the potency of fentanyl, the brain easily adapts to fentanyl. This makes it extremely difficult to experience pleasure when not using fentanyl if you are abusing the drug. Even those who are prescribed fentanyl can easily experience dependence. And while one can be dependent on a substance without being addicted, dependence can sometimes lead to abuse.

If you are addicted or dependent on fentanyl, you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms that have been known to begin as early as a few hours after you took the drug. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal and, in turn, fentanyl dependence, may include:

-Pain in your muscles or bones

-Uncontrollable leg movement

-Cold flashes

-Intense cravings

-Sleep issues

-Diarrhea and/or vomiting

Effects of Fentanyl

Unfortunately, the “positive” effects of taking fentanyl very often lead to dependence and abuse, which are extremely dangerous. And the effects of fentanyl along with the symptoms of withdrawal make it very difficult to stop taking fentanyl.

It is important to understand the effects of fentanyl to better understand if you may have a problem with the drug. The most common short-term effects of fentanyl abuse include:

-Euphoria

-Drowsiness

-Nausea or constipation

-Breathing issues

-Sedation or unconsciousness

Sadly, a very common consequence or effect of fentanyl misuse is overdose. According to https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl, “Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. In 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3 percent in 2010.” When you overdose on fentanyl, your breathing can slow or stop, leading to hypoxia, and, very possibly, death.

Fentanyl and Mental Illness

As we see with the abuse of powerful drugs such as fentanyl, mental illness and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Along with the many negative physical consequences fentanyl abuse or addiction can have, repeated misuse of the drug can also damage your mental state. It may worsen existing mental illnesses, bring about the onset of new mental illnesses and even bring about suicidal thoughts or behaviors. We will dive into examining these once you begin treatment with us at Resurgence Behavioral Health.

Treatment for Fentanyl Overdose

It can be tricky to treat a fentanyl overdose because so many people are mixing the cheaper fentanyl with other drugs. Therefore, first responders often struggle with determining what drug is causing the overdose. One drug they often use when they believe they are treating a fentanyl overdose is Naloxone. If they give you Naloxone right away, it can work effectively to keep you alive. Fentanyl, however, is stronger than any other opioid drugs, so it may require multiple doses of naloxone, depending on the situation at-hand.

If you suspect someone is overdosing or has overdosed, the first thing you need to do is call 911, so he or she can receive the immediate medical attention that they so desperately need. Once medical personnel has arrived on the scene of the overdose, they will administer naloxone if they suspect an opioid drug is involved in the overdose.

Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse

Whether you experienced a fentanyl overdose or if you have determined that you are ready to seek treatment for fentanyl abuse, there are a number of treatment options we can explore. Oftentimes we will explore a mix of medications and behavioral as this combination has proven to be highly effective for opioid addictions. After an initial detox, we will discuss both inpatient and outpatient program options as well as a tailored treatment plan.

While we follow some typical treatment plans for drug abuse and addiction, we do keep current on new and successful treatment approaches, specifically with fentanyl. Because as there has been an increase in fentanyl abuse in recent years, there have also been more studies on the best routes for treating a fentanyl addiction, specifically examining medication options and approaches to counseling.

Medications

Even though you are recovering from a drug addiction, there are currently a number of safe medications we can explore prescribing as we help you on your road to fentanyl recovery. For instance, according to an FDA press release, in 2018 the FDA “cleared a mobile medical application (app) to help increase retention (the amount of time a patient participates) in an outpatient treatment program for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). The reSET-O app is a prescription cognitive behavioral therapy intended to be used in addition to outpatient treatment under the care of a health care professional, in conjunction with treatment that includes buprenorphine and contingency management.”

Buprenorphine and methadone work for treating your addiction by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as fentanyl, which will reduce your cravings for fentanyl as well as any withdrawal symptoms. Another medicine, naltrexone, blocks your opioid receptors and prevents fentanyl from having any further effect on you. If you wish to explore a treatment plan that includes medication, we will be happy to discuss options with you.

Behavioral Therapy for Fentanyl Addiction

Behavioral-issue therapies for addiction to opioids like fentanyl can help you modify your attitudes and behaviors related to drug use, teach you healthy life skills and help you stick to your medications. We will likely use cognitive behavioral therapy to help modify your drug use expectations and behaviors. This therapy will also effectively manage your triggers and stress.

Contingency management is another form of behavioral therapy that uses a voucher-based system. This involves giving patients “points” based on negative drug tests. You can use the points to earn items that encourage healthy living. Lastly, motivational interviewing, is a more patient-centered counseling style that we may explore to address any mixed feelings you have regarding this big life change.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment at Resurgence

At Resurgence Behavioral Health we are here to help and support you through finding your truest self while leaving your most destructive self behind. We understand what it takes to get you through your fentanyl withdrawal and the emotional and psychological support you’ll need from us, to become your best self. Contact us today with questions or concerns.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

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