Fentanyl addiction is a significant contributor to the opioid epidemic, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that over 10 million people abuse opioids yearly. Additionally, as fentanyl is easier to produce and significantly more potent than heroin and morphine, it is prone to abuse.
Patients struggling with fentanyl addiction face many harmful consequences, including severe withdrawal symptoms, short- and long-term side effects, and a high risk of overdose deaths. Next Steps Recovery’s fentanyl addiction treatment center in Asheville, NC, cares for patients as they work to overcome substance abuse and restore their quality of life.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid shown to be 100 times stronger than morphine. In addition, the dangerous drug is also 50 times more potent than heroin. In prescription form, fentanyl treats severe pain, often after surgery or for cancer patients.
However, people also make and use fentanyl illegally. Frequently manufactured in labs without medical oversight, the illicit opioid drug is available in several variations, such as liquids, powders, or mixed into pills.
Drug dealers found that mixing fentanyl with other drugs, like heroin, cocaine, meth, or other opioids, can amplify their strength and lower costs.
Due to its high potency, consuming a small amount can lead to a fentanyl overdose. Additionally, since it’s frequently mixed with all types of illicit drugs, anyone with a drug addiction could unknowingly overdose on fentanyl.
How Does Fentanyl Work in the Body?
Like all opioids, including heroin, morphine, and hydrocodone, fentanyl binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain that control pain and emotion.
Doctors prescribe fentanyl to patients suffering intense pain or for breakthrough cancer pain. However, since fentanyl is such a potent drug, doctors typically reserve its use for patients with a tolerance to other prescription opioids.
Over time, repeated fentanyl use can lead the brain to adapt to the drug’s effects. The opioid becomes necessary to feel pleasure, even as sensitivity to it lowers, requiring higher doses.
The effects of fentanyl include:
- Pain relief
- Extreme happiness
- Breathing issues
Dependence on fentanyl develops as the brain adapts to the drug. As a result, even a person taking prescription fentanyl can develop a dependency on the opioid.
What Are Risk Factors for Fentanyl Addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the fentanyl epidemic led to over 48,000 overdose deaths in a given year. To manage the high overdose rates, experts worked to identify risk factors for fentanyl addiction.
While people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and areas can abuse fentanyl, some are more likely to develop opioid addictions.
Those at a higher risk of fentanyl addiction are caucasian males between the ages of 18-25 living in a rural environment and previously prescribed opioids for pain.
In addition, those who have a genetic predisposition for drug abuse, such as a family member who also struggles with addiction, may be more likely to experience dependence on fentanyl.
Other contributing factors to fentanyl addiction include mental illness, a history of substance abuse, and social influences.
What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction?
Signs of fentanyl abuse include depression, confusion, slurred speech, labored breathing, weakness, and slowed heart rate. As abuse becomes fentanyl addiction, the signs and symptoms become more severe, including:
- Severe cravings
- Inability to perform regular tasks
- Disinterest in previously enjoyable activities
- Need for increased dosage of fentanyl
- Nausea and vomiting
- Respiratory depression
In severe cases, people addicted to fentanyl may lose consciousness or fall into a coma.
What Health Problems Can Develop from Fentanyl Addiction?
Without fentanyl addiction treatment, the drug produces significant health concerns, including damage to the internal organs, sexual dysfunction, a higher likelihood of abusing other illicit drugs, risk of overdose, and death.
What Are Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms?
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can begin only hours after ceasing substance use. Symptoms become progressively worse as the effects of fentanyl wear off.
Withdrawal from fentanyl addiction can cause the following symptoms:
- Sweating, fever, and chills
- Intense headaches
- Increased heart rate and rapid breathing
- Runny nose and flu-like symptoms
- Muscle pain
- Stomach cramps
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Due to the severity and unpredictability of withdrawal symptoms, those struggling with fentanyl addiction should detox through medically-assisted treatment centers.
A treatment facility can provide medications such as methadone, which prevents fentanyl cravings and lessens the intensity of withdrawal. A detox treatment center can also offer 24-hour medical care.
After Detox, How Does Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Work?
Fentanyl addiction treatment extends beyond detox. But unfortunately, without the proper support and resources, it’s common for fentanyl abuse to resume. At Next Steps Recovery, we offer multiple outpatient addiction treatment options for patients struggling with fentanyl and other opioid addictions.
Bridging the gap between inpatient detox and long-term freedom from synthetic opioids, clients can choose from our:
- Intensive outpatient program
- Substance abuse comprehensive outpatient treatment (SACOT) program
- Dual-diagnosis treatment
- Outpatient programs
Our options provide clients with the addiction treatment resources they need to overcome their substance use disorder.
Next Steps Recovery offers several therapies as part of our addiction treatment center’s work to restore the lives of our clients.
The 12-step system for addiction treatment is a proven program that prioritizes personal growth and behavioral changes to create a sustainable recovery from fentanyl abuse.
Our 12-step immersion program integrates with the other evidence-based therapies offered at the Next Steps Recovery treatment center to help patients find freedom from drug abuse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most highly regarded therapies available, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a trusted treatment for managing addiction and other mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
By identifying and addressing negative thought patterns, CBT helps those struggling with reducing cravings and managing their addiction to gain control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a valuable treatment for those struggling with fentanyl addiction. DBT focuses on developing strength in emotional regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal and distress tolerance.
DBT therapy includes both individual counseling and support groups to provide clients with the skills and assistance they need to successfully overcome their addiction.
Gain Power over Fentanyl Addiction with Clinically Tested Treatment
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are highly addictive and 50 times more potent than heroin. Overcoming fentanyl addiction requires time and care as your body begins to heal and your brain restores healthy function.
Next Steps Recovery in Asheville, NC, helps those struggling with fentanyl addiction by providing individualized treatment plans and programs to recover from struggles with drug abuse fully. Discover a substance-free life when you fill out our online contact form today.
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Medically Reviewed By Susan Stader MS, LCMH, LCAS, CCS
Susan Stader is the founder and director of Next Step Recovery and NSR of Asheville, an Intensive Outpatient Program and a Long-term Extended Care program in Asheville, NC. She received her Master’s in Community Counseling in 2004 at Western Carolina University and went on to get her licensure in addictions and mental health counseling. Susan believes that treatment should be gender-specific and offered in a small setting. Small recovery communities, such as hers, are more intimate and effective in overall client satisfaction and care.
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Recovery is a lifelong journey, but you don’t need to take it alone. At Next Step Recovery, we give you the tools and support you need to get through early sobriety and find lasting healing. It is our goal to empower our patients to be their best selves and live the life they deserve.
If you have any questions about our programs, methods, insurance, or anything else, reach out to us today. We look forward to helping you to get started along the road to recovery!
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