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Fentanyl is a drug used in order to combat pain, particularly in patients suffering from cancer. When used correctly, the drug can be very effective, especially if medical professionals are monitoring the consumption. But over time, the body can develop tolerance to the powerful opioid, and it will require higher amounts or a more frequent consumption.
In some cases, fentanyl can result in dependence, both for people who need it to treat pain and those who use it illegally. With the addiction potential being so high, it is important to understand the dangers behind this opioid and how it can affect users over time. Beyond its powerful addictive elements, fentanyl can raise the risk of overdose and severe withdrawal symptoms.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is similar to morphine. It is used in treating severe pain for cancer patients or patients who just went through surgery. Although similar, fentanyl is more potent than morphine, more specifically 50 to 100 times more potent in comparison.
Fentanyl can be very useful when trying to treat pain in patients who are tolerant to different types of opioids. Fentanyl can be found under names such as Duragesic, Sublimaze, and Actiq. The powerful opioid should always be used based on the doctor’s instructions and should never be used for longer than the specialist prescribed.
The drug is very dangerous due to the high addiction potential for the users. Those who have problems with substance use disorders are especially at risk, and they may try to obtain fentanyl illegally. It can be taken in pill or powder form, although some may put it in nasal sprays and other containers.
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How is Fentanyl Used?
Fentanyl is usually used as a patch placed on an individual’s skin or given as a shot if prescribed by a doctor. Sometimes, it may even be given as lozenges that can be sucked similar to cough drops.
But when used illegally, the drug is sold into pills that look similar to other opioids, in nasal sprays or eye droppers, or as a powder. In some cases, it is even mixed with other drugs like MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin.
People combine it with other drugs because it does not take a lot to produce a high using fentanyl. This makes it quite cheap too, and a more convenient option for drug users. However, in this case, the dangers are much higher – while fentanyl is cheap, it can bring along many risks.
Effects of Fentanyl
The drug has very intense effects on people’s brains and bodies, as it works similarly to morphine, heroin, and other opioid drugs. It can bind to the opioid receptors of the body, which can be found in brain areas responsible for controlling emotions and pain. This is another reason why it is prescribed by healthcare professionals.
Still, the brain will get used to the drug and build tolerance if the opioid is consumed too many times and in higher amounts. This way, the brain is programmed to only feel pleasure from fentanyl and nothing else. Therefore, people will start seeking the drug and will be willing to do anything to obtain it.
Fentanyl will have specific effects, such as:
- Excessive happiness
- Breathing difficulties
Many people who want to use the drug will get it by manufacturing it in some illegal laboratories or by diverting it from various legitimate medical supplies. It is consumed in different ways, either by smoking it, injecting it, snorting it, or taking it orally. All methods bring the same dangers.
When used for too long, an addiction may develop, which leads to the user abusing fentanyl regularly. They will do anything to get it and experience the few pleasant symptoms it can offer.
Fentanyl addiction can be very dangerous and if it’s not treated on time, it may lead to long-term consequences and even death.
A person can overdose on fentanyl when they build a tolerance to the drug and start consuming very high amounts to reach the desired effect. When it happens, it will result in very serious and uncomfortable symptoms. What’s worse is that it can even be fatal.
The breathing can slow down or stop when someone overdoses on fentanyl. As a result, the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain decreases. This condition, known as hypoxia, can make someone fall into a coma and go through permanent brain damage.
Some individuals make designer fentanyl analogs, and they are very similar to the original drug. Because this is so common and both fentanyl and the analogs are so potent, accidental overdoses are very likely to happen.
When someone overdoses on fentanyl, they will experience symptoms like:
- Slower heartbeat
- Shallow or slow breathing
- Clammy and cold skin
- Dizziness, confusion, and feeling faint
- Having difficulties talking or walking
Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse
When someone overdoses on fentanyl, they have to get medical help urgently. Any fentanyl overdose is an emergency, and it should be treated seriously. Therefore, anyone who suspects that someone overdosed on fentanyl should call for medical attention immediately.
Usually, overdoses will be treated using naloxone, but it has to be administered as soon as possible, as it can help block fentanyl’s effects.
Later on, the individual who is addicted to fentanyl and overdosed may need to go through different treatments like detox and counseling. Counseling can be especially useful if the person has certain triggers or stress factors that led to the addiction.
Some users may benefit from long-term treatment centers or rehab centers that are heroin or opioid-specific. The first step to finding help for a fentanyl addiction is to reach out for help. It only requires a bit of willingness, and the ability to be honest with yourself.
How Real Deal Can Help
Real Deal can help you get back on your feet through an effective detox program and a sober living program. Our solutions can help anyone transition from fentanyl addiction to sobriety and to improving their life.
Patients will learn how to function in society once again, and they will learn skills that will help them in the future.
If you have a loved one who is addicted to fentanyl or overdosed on it, you should call for medical assistance right away. Otherwise, the situation could be life-threatening. Also, contact us so that we can offer our support and help the person get back on the right track. Finding recovery from addiction is not always easy, but it is possible. Get started on your new life today!