The misuse of Fetanyl can lead to a variety of negative consequences. One of the most serious concerns is the potential for addiction, as Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, increased pain, vomiting, and chills can make it incredibly challenging for individuals to stop using the drug. In addition to physical dependence, Fentanyl abuse can also increase the risk of overdose and even death, making it crucial to use the medication only as directed by a healthcare professional.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a member of the opioid drug class of prescription medications that ae intended to treat chronic and severe pain. Physicians often prescribe it in the form of a patch form. The drug is absorbed through the patient’s skin and makes its way into the bloodstream, crossing the blood-brain barrier to bind to opioid receptors. Once the fentanyl binds, the patient experiences a euphoric feeling and masks the pain symptoms for the duration of the patch.
The opioid crisis in the US is worsening due to the emergence of illegal fentanyl manufacturing, taking advantage of its synthetic nature. This potent and dangerous substance has become an unfortunate driving force behind nationwide addiction issues. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, increasing the addiction potential and the risk of overdose when misused.
How Do People Use Fentanyl?
Physicians have the authority to prescribe fentanyl in various forms such as a shot, lozenges, or skin patches. Despite tight controls on the opioid fentanyl, many suffering from addiction are still able to get their hands on it.
The fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses is made illegally in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold as a powder, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, dropped onto blotter paper, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.
Fentanyl is also commonly mixed with other street drugs, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Because fentanyl is so potent, it only takes a small amount to produce a high, making it a cheap additive to dilute less powerful drugs.
This can be incredibly dangerous and contributes to overdoses, especially when the person taking the drug doesn’t realize someone has mixed it with fentanyl. This powerful blend can have disastrous consequences due to its potential for generating an unexpectedly strong opioid. The effects of this potent concoction could be deadly.
Can Someone Overdose on Fentanyl?
A person can overdose on fentanyl. Like other drugs, an overdose of fentanyl occurs when it produces serious adverse effects and life-threatening reactions.
An overdose of fentanyl can slow or even stop a person’s breathing, leading to hypoxia, a condition where a decreased amount of oxygen reaches the brain. The reduced oxygen can lead to a coma, permanent brain damage, and even death.
What Is Fentanyl Withdrawal?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “These drugs (opioids) can cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. As reliance on a drug grows, so does one’s tolerance for it. The body gradually adapts to receiving more substances.
How long it takes to become physically dependent varies with each person. The body needs time to recover when the person stops taking the drugs. This process causes withdrawal symptoms. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, as with other opioids, can be a contributor to continued addiction as people try to avoid these unpleasant symptoms.
Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal
There are many symptoms of withdrawal from fentanyl, including intense fentanyl cravings, muscle and stomach cramps, bone pain, nausea, irritability, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, sweating, and chills or goosebumps. These symptoms can range in severity depending on how long someone has been abusing, how much they have been taking, and any underlying physical or mental health conditions.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are incredibly unpleasant but are rarely life-threatening. Although detoxing can appear to be beneficial, it is important to consider the risks of severe dehydration. This can lead to high sodium levels in the body which may cause permanent brain damage and even heart failure if not monitored properly due to intense vomiting or diarrhea. These complications are rare, but medical professionals should monitor a detox to provide supportive treatment should they arise.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
As opioid abuse increases, so does the potential for debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from fentanyl is no exception – its timeline can range depending on usage habits such as duration of use, dose, and frequency. Individual experiences may vary despite the general timelines expected with this type of detoxification process.
Because fentanyl is a short-acting opioid, withdrawal usually begins 8 to 24 hours after the user has taken their last dose. Withdrawal symptoms typically reach their worst at 36 to 48 hours after the last dose and usually continue for 7 to 10 days. After this time, a person begins to feel better as their body adjusts to no longer having fentanyl. However, someone who recently stopped fentanyl may still feel off for several more weeks, and there may be long-term psychological effects.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Treatment and Detox
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and are part of the reason people find it so hard to stop taking fentanyl. However, treatment options are available to manage these symptoms and help people detox so they can begin their recovery.
There are medications in development to help with the withdrawal process for fentanyl and other opioids. Lofexidine and NSS-2 Bridge are FDA-approved medications that can alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. This non-opioid drug which is placed behind the ear provides relief for up to five days.
In December 2018, the FDA cleared a mobile medical application, reSET®, to help treat opioid use disorders. This revolutionary application makes cognitive behavioral therapy more accessible and convenient than ever, allowing users to complement treatment plans that include buprenorphine plus contingency management. Make your goal of lasting recovery a reality.
At Agape Detox Center, we provide our patients with the highest quality of care and support as they take their first steps toward a healthier future. Our experienced medical team is ready to assist in every aspect of treatment, including managing withdrawal symptoms and beginning recovery programs suited specifically for each individual’s needs.
Inpatient rehab programs offer a safe, comfortable environment for your treatment and keep you away from various triggers and stressors that can prevent your recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl addiction, explore your treatment options today.
Stephanie Catalano is an accomplished Clinical Director at Agape Behavioral Healthcare. With a Master of Social Work degree, LCSW license, and extensive training in Rapid Resolution Therapy under her belt, she brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Her unique combination of education and experience allows her to provide exceptional care to clients and lead her team with confidence. Stephanie’s joy comes from witnessing the moments when her patients creatively connect the dots and bravely move toward reclaiming their power. Her purpose is to help individuals understand their past so they can create a future full of hope, growth, and success. Stephanie attributes a large portion of her success to the supportive culture and strong sense of community fostered by the Agape team.