Understanding Fentanyl: What is it? What Should I Know?

by | Aug 30, 2019 | Addiction | 0 comments

what is fentanyl

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What is Fentanyl?

To put it simply, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug. What that means is that, like morphine, it is produced in labs, considered a “downer,” and works by affecting the pain receptors in the brain so as to reduce feelings and perception of pain. Also like morphine, fentanyl was produced as a pharmaceutical drug for pain management, but its use was diverted to other recreational purposes.
Fentanyl can actually be 80-100 times more potent than morphine and is often added to other illicit drugs, such as heroin, to make it seem more potent. The opiate can come in many forms, and therefore, mixed with many different types of substances – powder, liquid (made into eye droppers or nasal sprays), pills, and even on blotter paper-like LSD.
While it can be legally prescribed to treat severe episodes of pain on people like cancer patients, this does not make its use “safer” than illicit drugs. In fact, it is the number one drug causing overdoses across the U.S. currently. Its almost instantaneous effect is what makes it so alluring to users, and why, when prescribed, must come from and be monitored by a health care professional. 
Nonetheless, most cases of intoxication or overdose have constantly been linked to illegally-produce fentanyl, not legally prescribed versions. Some of the street names for the opiate are:

  • Apache 
  • China Girl/China White
  • Dance Fever
  • Drop Dead
  • Friend
  • Goodfella(s)
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • Tango & Cash
  • TNT

The opioid crisis in the U.S. and Florida

In many states, fentanyl-related deaths started being more commonly reported and increase in the 2010s, but it was between 2016 and 2017 that the numbers surpassed that of other substances’ in the country, and they’ve been going up ever since. 
In Florida specifically, it was in the second half of 2017 that this happened. By then, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in the state was above the national average. In 2013 the number of fentanyl-related deaths was 292, and by 2017, that number went up to 2088, increasing sevenfold.

Fentanyl-related symptoms – Both Use and Withdrawal

Using such a strong drug like fentanyl can take its toll on the nervous system. As explained, the drug has an effect on the pain receptors of the brain and changes how it is perceived by the body. However, this is not the only “symptom” caused by fentanyl.
Abuse signs come in many forms and shapes and can damage different parts of the body because of its role in the nervous system. Some of the side effects of fentanyl include the following:

  • Changes in mood (moodiness, mellowness, euphoria)
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Stiff muscles 
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Decreased heart rate and slow breathing
  • Constipation, nausea, and/or vomiting
  • Sweating and flushing
  • Dry mouth

While not all symptoms will act up at once, not having all of them does not mean that the dosage or frequency with which one is using fentanyl is not dangerous. And what’s more, what starts as occasional abuse can become an addiction quickly, considering the potency of the drug.
Deciding to quit fentanyl, however, is something that should be done carefully, because even though the side effects of taking it might be severe, the symptoms of withdrawal are not very light, either. Withdrawal might cause:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Goosebumps and chills
  • Runny nose
  • Hot and/or cold flashes
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Intense generalized pain

These can start just 12 hours after taking the last dose of fentanyl and can last up to a week depending on the degree of addiction. The dangers of this scenario are yet another reason why it is important to seek help as you’re trying to get clean.

How to Get Help/Treatment

The first step towards recovery is deciding to get help – but in order for that step to count, you must take action. Some might prefer to talk to their health care provider before looking for programs, so as to know what treatment is recommended for their case. Quitting will be different for each user, and will depend on their stage of addiction, meaning how much and how often they are consuming the drug at that point.
Initially, the process all users will go through is usually a medical detox, where they will preferably wait out the period of getting rid of the toxins with medical attention. Even if it lasts a short period of time, having professional support can make a big difference in terms of safety and prevention of health or mental side effects.
Once a user has dealt with the symptoms, however, it is important to understand that the journey does not end there. Addiction is not just about physical effects, but also psychological, chemical, and behavioral ones as well. For this stage of the process, it is highly recommended that an addict start to go through rehabilitation. There are plenty of options that can fit a person’s budget and lifestyle so that everyone can actually finish their program.

We Can Provide The Help You Need

We at Amethyst Recovery Center believe in taking care of a patient fully – not just treating the symptoms, but treating body and mind. Mental health is directly intertwined with chemical abuse, and one affects the other, so in order to get clean, it is important to treat the problem in its entirety.
In our facilities, our inpatient treatment program includes more than just medical attention – from anger management to cognitive behavioral therapy and education, the residential addiction treatment gives you all the tools needed to leave our facilities more prepared for full adaptation into your new, healthy lifestyle, and with lower chances of relapsing.
Call us at (888)447-7724 or visit our website and contact us at your convenience. We are available 24/7 to answer all your questions, concerns, and provide all the information you need to make this important decision. We believe we can truly help you not just quit your addiction but actually become a more independent, improved you.

Resources:

https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl
https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605043.html
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/florida-opioid-summary
 
 

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