There’s been a 540% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths over the last three years alone. Many drug abusers don’t even realize that they are taking fentanyl. This prescription opioid is being mixed in with other illicit drugs, like cocaine.
Those who are struggling with a fentanyl addiction should seek addiction treatment from a rehab program. An effective treatment center can help addicts break free from drug abuse and live healthier lives. One of the most important parts of treatment is to educate drug abusers. Drug abusers should learn about the dangers of fentanyl abuse at treatment centers. In particular, they should have a better understanding of how fentanyl affects the brain.
Fentanyl abuse can lead to mental health problems and permanent physical damage. This drug easily passes through the blood-brain barrier and into the brain. Once that happens, fentanyl rehab is needed to help deal with this type of drug addiction. Without fentanyl addiction treatment, the withdrawal symptoms can become deadly. Here’s a more in-depth look at how fentanyl affects the brain.
Fentanyl Addiction Facts and Statistics
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 100 times more potent than heroin
- Overdose rates have skyrocketed over the years, with fentanyl overdoses taking the lead
- As little as 2 mg of fentanyl can be a lethal dose
- China manufactures most of America’s street fentanyl
- 80% of all fentanyl seizures in 2014 happened in 10 states
How Fentanyl Works: Fentanyl’s Effects on Dopamine
Fentanyl works in the same way as many other opioid drugs such as heroin. It binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). These receptors regulate and manage one’s experience with pain. They’re also known to have an impact on one’s emotions.
Once the fentanyl molecules attach to the receptors, they flood the brain’s reward centers with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical that is naturally produced by the body. It’s essential to autonomic function. It’s also essential to the regulation of various behaviors. For example, it’s responsible for getting people motivated to do certain tasks. It’s what your brain produces as a means of rewarding yourself. However, with fentanyl abuse, the brain is getting rewarded through artificial means.
When dopamine rushes into the brain, it saturates the receptors. This causes a sense of extreme relaxation and euphoria. It’s a feeling that the brain craves. The saturation of dopamine can also have lasting effects on the mind. It can cause a cascade of other actions to happen. In fact, too much dopamine can lead to nausea, sedation, confusion, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest, and more.
The influx of dopamine signals to the brain that it needs to stop producing it. As a result, the brain will naturally start to make less and less of this neurochemical to balance out the neurochemical levels. Unfortunately, within time, the brain will adapt. It will continue to produce dopamine at low levels even when there’s no artificial stimulation.
This is probably why most drug abusers claim that they feel depressed when coming down from the drug.
Why Is This Dangerous?
So, what’s so dangerous about an increase in dopamine levels? Why is fentanyl so dangerous to the point that residential treatment is needed?
Opioid receptors are responsible for controlling your respiration and rate of breathing. When you take too much fentanyl, it slows down your breathing. This is why an overdose usually looks rather peaceful. The drug addict just seems like he or she has fallen asleep.
Another reason why fentanyl is dangerous is because the brain will want to sustain the same levels of dopamine. When there’s no artificial stimulation, the brain does not produce enough dopamine. As a result, it will begin to crave it. This is how drug addicts develop a dependence on the drug. It’s also why your brain gets rewired. People addicted to fentanyl will often engage in drug-seeking behaviors. They need their brain neurochemical levels to return back to their normal state. Unfortunately, that can take a lot of time. It will also require the help of an effective fentanyl rehab program.
Last but not least, the brain will get used to the increase in dopamine levels. It will require more for the brain to get high. This results in a tolerance to the drug. It’s also why many drug addicts tend to take high doses of their drug of choice. Too high of a dose, and they might overdose. Quitting cold turkey is also not recommended. The sudden absence of any opioids may be damaging to your body. It can worsen both substance abuse and mental illnesses. Fentanyl detox is absolutely necessary to break free from this narcotic.
Other Ways that Fentanyl Affects the Brain
Fentanyl does not only affect the dopaminergic system. This neurochemical is extremely important in the body. It can also stop your brain’s natural production of other neurochemicals, like norepinephrine. This action can cause the depression of the central nervous system.
Chronic-long term use of fentanyl may also break down the white matter in your brain. When this happens, the loss of white matter may cause behavioral issues to arise. You may experience emotions differently or may be more prone to feeling stressed. White matter damage can affect your decision-making process as well.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Much like with any type of alcohol and drug addiction, fentanyl abuse leads to withdrawal symptoms. The changes in the brain cause the body to display symptoms of withdrawal when the substance is not available. Drug abusers will also experience fentanyl addiction symptoms. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Chills and headaches
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Runny nose
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are similar to having the flu. They can be difficult to overcome, which is why intervention programs are often needed to help fentanyl abusers. Drug addicts go through a detox process similar to alcohol detox. The substance abuse treatment will gauge the damage that has been done. It will also help drug abusers overcome the addiction. There are many treatment options and treatment programs to choose from.
Recover from Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction
The effects of fentanyl dependence can be devastating to the brain and body. If the addiction is left untreated, the damage can become irreversible. Those with an addiction to fentanyl are also susceptible to fatal overdoses. Recover from the effects of fentanyl abuse by getting drug treatment from a rehab center. Addiction rehabilitation will speed up your recovery. A fentanyl rehab center will have everything you’ll need.
Inpatient facilities, like Amethyst Recovery, offer a high level of care at state-of-the-art treatment centers. Learn more about how an average day in inpatient rehab for fentanyl addiction may look like. Inpatient treatment offers a higher level of care than outpatient treatment. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our admissions team, addiction specialists, and treatment advisors will be more than happy to walk you through the recovery process. They’ll also give you the answer to many frequently asked questions on addiction treatment.
Heal the damage caused by fentanyl addiction with us. We’ll monitor your progress and periodically assess your condition to determine where you stand in the addiction recovery process. Our medical team will ensure that you withdraw from drug abuse successfully and comfortably. We’ll also help you develop the skills and habits needed to stay away from illicit drugs and prescription drugs. Do what’s best for your future. We’re just a phone call away.