What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is considered a powerful synthetic opioid, that has similar properties as morphine, but so much stronger. Fentanyl belongs to the class of synthetic opioids drugs that are designed to treat pain, similar to codeine and morphine, commonly used post-surgery.  Fentanyl is often prescribed to patients with chronic pain, who are immune to other opioids. Due to fentanyl being so potent, only a low dosage is needed to produce desired effects.  Street names for illegally used fentanyl are Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, Friend, Goodfellas, etc. Synthetic opioids, like Fentanyl, are among the most common drugs that cause overdose deaths in America.

There are two types of Fentanyl:

  • Pharmaceutical grade Fentanyl is generally prescribed for pains, post-surgical, cancer, and hospice related care.
  • Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is illegally manufactured opioid, commonly mixed with other powerful drugs like heroin, cocaine or other illicit pills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, an overdose death involving synthetic opioids in 2017 rose to 28,000 death. In 2017 a large increase in synthetic opioids was recorded among males in ages 25 to 44. Death from synthetic opioids significantly increased in 23 states.

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How is Fentanyl is used?

A prescription type fentanyl is administered as a shot, a patch that adheres to a person’s skin, or as a cough drop.

An illegally used fentanyl is produced in the labs. Synthetic fentanyl sold in powder form and administered nasally, or formed as tablets that look similar to regularly prescribed medications.

How does Fentanyl affect brain function?

Similar to other powerful synthetic opioids, Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors, that are located in the brain’s reward system, which controls emotions. Repeated use of fentanyl causes the brain to adapt to the drug, decrease its sensitivities, reducing the ability to enjoy many other activities then drug.

What are the effects of using Fentanyl?

  • euphoria
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • breathing problems
  • blackouts
  • constipation
  • calmness

A more severe effect of the Fentanyl effect is overdosing. An overdoes is often associated with damaging effects of drug abuse and dangerous health-related symptoms. During fentanyl overdoes, a person may stop breathing, which may lower oxygen access to the brain. This condition called hypoxia, and it may lead to permanent brain damage and death.

What is Fentanyl addiction?

If an individual takes prescription Fentanyl under doctor’s supervision and follows an appropriate dosage intake, there is still a risk of developing a low level of dependence. The withdrawal symptoms may occur when a person stops taking the drug. When a person misuses the drug, the dependence may turn in to full-blown addiction. Addiction to fentanyl is described as compulsive drug-seeking, inability to stop using the drug, and using the drug despite harmful consequences to a person’s health and well-being. Most individuals with addiction are unable to perform day to day functions, and develop issues with work, school and home life.

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What are the withdrawal symptoms of Fentanyl addiction?

While addiction may vary from mild to severe, addicted individual may experience serious and often harmful withdrawal symptoms:

  • severe cravings
  • muscle cramps and bone aches
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • restless leg syndrome
  • cold flashes
  • twitching
  • stomach cramps
  • insomnia
  • rapid heart rate
  • tremors
  • anxiety

How is Fentanyl addiction treated?

Treatment for Fentanyl addiction may involve a combination of medical and behavioral therapies that have been proven to be very effective.

Medications.  A medication used for treating addiction may assist with lowering cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Other medications block opioid receptors to hinder the effects of fentanyl on the brain. A medical professional will determine a course of action based on a person’s medical history, the length of fentanyl use and other medical and mental conditions.

Counseling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to treat the long-term effects of fentanyl addiction.  The therapy will be able to help individual to understand the causes of their addiction, learn to cope with life’s stress without using drugs,  and effectively manage their cravings and avoid triggers.

Family support during and after treatment is critical. Support groups post-rehab treatment will ensure a successful recovery, and drug-free life.