Fentanyl addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Taking this high-powered opioid drug can quickly lead to addiction, making it difficult for people to cut down or stop using on their own.
Those living with a fentanyl addiction may need the help of professional addiction treatment services in order to break free from their patterns of substance abuse and achieve recovery.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that belongs to the same class of drugs as morphine, oxycodone, heroin, and opium. It differs from these other opioids by being much more potent, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
In medical settings, fentanyl is used to treat severe pain following surgery. Yet most people who become addicted to fentanyl aren’t getting a prescription from their doctors; instead, they are purchasing fentanyl on the street or using illicit substances like heroin that have been laced with fentanyl without their knowledge.
Understanding Fentanyl Addiction
Like other opioids, fentanyl has an extremely high risk for addiction. Fentanyl is a central nervous system depressant that acts on the body’s opioid receptors, causing effects such as:
- Slowed breathing
In addition, using fentanyl causes a massive release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with the sensation of reward, learning, and addiction. This release of dopamine means that frequently using synthetic opioids like fentanyl can rapidly develop into an addiction.
Signs of Fentanyl Use and Addiction
An outside observer may notice the following signs of fentanyl use and addiction:
- Frequent drowsiness
- Constant itchiness
- Sleeping during the day
- Falling asleep while standing or sitting in a chair
- Sudden weight changes
- Scars on the arms or legs from intravenous drug use
- Personality changes
In addition to these signs that someone is abusing fentanyl, the American Psychiatric Association lists 11 diagnostic criteria that medical professionals use to determine whether a patient has an opioid use disorder:
- Using more opioids than intended, or for longer than intended
- Having a higher opioid tolerance (needing to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effect)
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking opioids
- Feeling persistent drug cravings
- Failing repeatedly to cut down or stop opioid use on their own
- Allowing opioid use to interfere with responsibilities at school, work, or home
- Continuing to use opioids despite harmful consequences
- Giving up on favored hobbies or activities due to opioid use
- Using opioids when it is dangerous to do so, such as while driving
- Continuing to use opioids despite their negative impacts on a physical or mental health condition
- Spending a great deal of time using opioids, seeking them out, or recovering from their effects
Meeting just two of these criteria can result in a diagnosis of an opioid use disorder.
One of the most troubling aspects of fentanyl addiction and abuse is the risk of overdose. Due to the incredibly high potency of fentanyl, opioid overdose deaths have increased dramatically since the drug became widely available.
A fentanyl overdose is a life-threatening emergency. People who take too much fentanyl might stop breathing, lose sufficient oxygen to their brains, and ultimately die. If you suspect that somebody is overdosing on fentanyl, call 911 immediately.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl
When someone has a fentanyl addiction, it can be incredibly difficult for them to stop using on their own. These physical withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl abuse can be incredibly painful and last for over a week:
- Hot and cold flashes
- Intense drug cravings
Fortunately, many fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be treated with the help of targeted fentanyl addiction treatment. Overcoming fentanyl withdrawal is never easy, but medical intervention can make the process more comfortable.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Fentanyl addiction treatment includes a wide range of techniques that help people overcome severe withdrawal symptoms, learn the necessary coping mechanisms and tools to sustain their sobriety, and build better lives for themselves in recovery.
Fentanyl addiction treatment at Jewel City Treatment Center breaks this process down into several levels of care that focus on different aspects of recovery.
The first step in overcoming fentanyl misuse is entering a specialized fentanyl detox center. Fentanyl detox focuses on helping people overcome the intense nature of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms by providing targeted medications that can drastically reduce their impact.
The fentanyl detox program at Jewel City Treatment Center is offered in a unique outpatient format, which allows people to continue living at home while they receive care. During treatment, they will receive specialized medical interventions that help them stay sober and progress to the next stages of recovery.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are a highly intensive form of outpatient treatment. Clients in a PHP attend treatment several days a week for several hours at a time. During the program, they will participate in therapy sessions and receive personalized treatment, including:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Relapse prevention programs
- Motivational interviewing
- Medication-assisted treatment
Each of these therapies works together to help clients build the tools necessary for a long and healthy life in recovery.
Clients continue living in their own homes or in supportive recovery housing during the PHP.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) provide the same evidence-based therapies found in PHPs, but in a more relaxed format. People attending an IOP participate in treatment several days a week for a few hours at a time. This schedule makes an IOP a good choice for those who have less severe substance use disorders or who are stepping down from higher levels of care.
Dual-diagnosis care focuses on helping people who have a substance use disorder alongside one or more co-occurring mental health disorders. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Without treatment, these mental illnesses can significantly increase the risk of relapse after a fentanyl abuse program is completed. A dual-diagnosis program solves this problem by treating mental health disorders and fentanyl addiction simultaneously, helping people achieve a holistic sense of physical and mental health.
Start Treatment Today
When you’re ready to begin treatment, reach out to the Jewel City Treatment Center by calling or filling out our confidential online contact form. Our team is standing by to help you find the treatment you need to overcome addiction once and for all.