How to Determine if Someone you Love is Abusing Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic or pain reliever. It is administered to patients who are experiencing severe pain or are injured. It is also given to a person after undergoing surgery to relieve them from pain.
In the 1960s, it was first used with other anesthesia medications to prepare the patients and put them to sleep before operations. As researchers studied deeper on the pain relieving effects of Fentanyl, pharmaceutical companies went on to put it in the market under the opioid pain reliever category. They developed Fentanyl patches, lollipops, a small piece of film that is dissolved under the tongue, and a pill lodged inside the cheek.
It was considered to be one of the strongest opioid drugs on the market. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than the effects of morphine. It even became the most often prescribed synthetic pain reliever in the United States back in 2012.
As with any drugs, Fentanyl must be prescribed by a physician. It is to be administered at the right dosage in a highly controlled environment. This opioid only takes a little time to create a tolerance to high doses, so a dose that was considered sufficient for a week will probably not have the same effect a few days later.
However, some studies show that recent overdoses of Fentanyl were produced in clandestine laboratories. This only means that these are non-pharmaceutical Fentanyl. The forms by which these are sold include the following: powder, spiked on blotter paper, mixed with heroin, or tablets that look similar to less potent opioids. Some are placed in a blotter paper in the mouth so it can be absorbed directly though the mucus membrane. Mixing heroin or other drugs with Fentanyl also puts a user at a significant risk of overdose.
When prescribed by healthcare professionals, Fentanyl is known as Actiq, Durageic and Sublimaze. Some of the known street names for illegally produced Fentanyl or Fentanyl-laced drugs include Apache, Cash, Jackpot, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, and Friend.
How Fentanyl works
Once Fentanyl is ingested, it binds itself to an opioid receptor in the brain. These opioid receptors are found in areas that highly affect or control an individual’s emotions. This is the same case for other opioids like heroin and morphine.
When opioids bind themselves with receptors, they boost the dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system. It is the system that instructs humans to do more things that are beneficial or pleasurable for the self. For instance, when you eat something sweet like chocolate, you are rewarded with the feeling of satisfaction and happiness which makes you want to eat again.
Opioids like Fentanyl mess up the brain’s reward system because it produces a state of euphoria and pleasure when it has not been technically gained by the individual. It means that there are no actual stimuli that triggered the feeling of satisfaction or happiness in a person. Since the reward system drives humans to do more of what is pleasurable, their body will begin to crave and seek for the rewarding feelings that Fentanyl gives off. This then drives the addiction to Fentanyl in the long run.
Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl prescriptions are designed to provide relief and relaxation to those patients who are in pain. However, like many opioids, it has some negative effects on the body. It directly affects the body’s respiration and heart rate.
Opioid receptors are also found in the areas of the brain that control the breathing rate of a person. High doses of opioid like Fentanyl can cause complete stoppage to an individual’s breathing and will eventually lead to death. People who have taken other opioids before sometimes think they will react to Fentanyl in the same way. However, most people do not understand the extreme potency of Fentanyl.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Fentanyl as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that it has a high potential for abuse and is extremely dangerous when prescription is not closely monitored.
Like many drugs, other users manipulate Fentanyl to quicken its release and effects to the brain. This is dangerous because it alters the slow-release mechanism, heightens the tolerance level, and may lead to overdose.
Signs and symptoms of Fentanyl abuse very much resemble that of heroin and other opioid. These include the following:
- Uncontrollable shakiness
- Cold sweats
- Dizziness or headaches
- Loss of appetite which leads to weight loss or malnutrition
- Itching, scratching, and hives
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry mouth
Fentanyl abuse can depress the body’s respiratory system leading to system failure and fatal overdose.
Fentanyl is extremely addictive and can be very hard to quit. The reason is that Fentanyl very quickly creates a high tolerance for a user. An amount that proved to be adequate for now may not give off the same high in the next time. Depending on the level of addiction, its effects can be very hard to predict and more dangerous.
Although it is important to control or stop the use of Fentanyl, cutting out Fentanyl completely and all of a sudden can be miserable for the user. The user has already developed a dependence on Fentanyl and a risk for withdrawal symptoms will show. Specialized programs are offered to treat both inpatient and outpatients to recover from addiction.
Users in the process of withdrawal or treatment may be vulnerable to potential relapse, meaning they may start using Fentanyl again. However, with professional medical supervision in the process of detoxification, the user’s experience can be eased so chances of relapse may be lessened.
After a person recognizes that he/she is suffering from Fentanyl abuse, it is essential that a professional help be sought immediately. Specialists are only a phone call away to support the user every step of the way in the process of treatment and road to recovery.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.