Fentanyl – also marketed under several trade names, including Actiq, Duragesic, Instanyl, and Abstral – is a powerful opioid pain reliever. The drug was first synthesized from poppies in 1960, but didn't become commercially available until the 1990s, with the invention of the Duragesic patch. Since that time, it has grown to become the most popular synthetic opioid pain reliever in clinical settings. Though this drug can offer fast-acting relief to those suffering from moderate to severe pain, it is also powerfully addictive and potentially dangerous.
Fentanyl belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. These powerful drugs are synthesized from poppies, making them close relatives of heroin. Though Fentanyl itself is a relatively new drug, opioids have figured prominently in human history, with evidence for their use dating back to prehistoric times. Opioids are popular drugs at least in part because the body is primed to process and react to these drugs through various opioid receptors.
Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as in the gastrointestinal tract. Consequently, Fentanyl has wide-ranging effects on brain function and emotion, movement and balance, and gastrointestinal function. This drug is classified as a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows activity in your brain, and as an analgesic, which means it eases pain.
Fentanyl is widely used among hospital and critical care patients. It's been shown to be especially effective at treating breakthrough pain – a type of pain that appears suddenly during the use of another pain reliever – which means that many Fentanyl users struggle with severe and chronic pain. It can also be used on its own to treat mild to moderate pain, and doctors sometimes combine it with a benzodiazepine to help alleviate pain.
Fentanyl is available in several delivery mechanisms, and the specific effects of the drug are partially dependent on which mechanism you use. Fentanyl patches offer transdermal pain relief that can last several days, though the patches require 12 to 24 hours to reach full effectiveness. Several manufacturers also make lozenges. Fentanyl is also available in an intravenous formulation, as well as in nasal sprays and inhalers.
The side effects you experience depend on how you use the drug. Intravenous users, for example, are vulnerable to blood-borne infections, particularly if they share needles. Users who rely on inhalers may suffer from sinus problems, while the transdermal patch can give rise to skin problems and prolonged highs.
Because Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic, the short-term effects of the drug are often overwhelmingly pleasant. For most users, these short-term benefits create a powerful incentive to keep using the drug, potentially giving rise to addiction and dangerous long-term use symptoms.
Short-Term Effects of Fentanyl
The short-term effects of Fentanyl vary somewhat from person to person, depending on body chemistry, health, age, and other factors. In general, you can expect to experience at least a few of these effects shortly after taking Fentanyl:
Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
Long-term use of Fentanyl greatly increases your odds of addiction, particularly if you are a recreational user or use Fentanyl for purposes or at dosages other than those recommended by your doctor. The amount of time it takes to become an addict varies with a number of factors. People with a personal or family history of addiction, those with mental health conditions, and people experiencing chronic stress are more vulnerable to addiction. In addition to addiction, which yields a host of unpleasant symptoms, some other long-term effects of Fentanyl use include:
Fentanyl also interacts dangerously with other depressants such as alcohol, and mixing these drugs – even in small doses – is potentially deadly.
Fentanyl isn't easily available to recreational users, and research suggests that more than 60% of addicts began using Fentanyl under the direction of a doctor. Many Fentanyl users have serious, life-threatening illnesses that cause them to struggle with chronic pain. Over time, they or their physician may steadily increase their Fentanyl dose, relying more and more on this powerful drug. This creates dependency in the body, and this is a significant prerequisite to addiction.
Some recreational users, though, are able to access the drug through unethical doctors or drug dealers who have access to medical supplies. These users quickly become addicted to Fentanyl because of its powerful narcotic effects.
Addiction can look like a personal choice, but it's anything but. Research has repeatedly and conclusively demonstrated that addiction is a disease, spurred by chemical changes in the brain and body. When you become addicted, your body makes you think that you “need” the drug to feel normal In fact, any addicts no longer enjoy a high with Fentanyl, relying on the drug instead to simply get through the day. If you feel like you can't be normal without Fentanyl, you need to know that this feeling is a product of addiction. By seeking treatment for Fentanyl addiction, you can move past your chemical dependence.
If you think you might be an addict, you probably are. The defining characteristic of addiction is continuing to use a drug in spite of negative consequences – even if those negative consequences are theoretical, such as the risk of suffering a heart attack. If you're still not sure, ask yourself the following questions. If you find yourself answering yes to several, you're likely an addict:
Addiction is a progressive disease, which means ignoring your Fentanyl addiction only allows it time to get worse. Seeking help for your Fentanyl addiction now is the best thing you can do to minimize your risk of serious side effects and maximize your chances of a successful, permanent recovery.
Fentanyl is a powerful drug even at the low end of the dosage scale. It can make it easier to sleep, inducing a dreamlike and pleasant state. Fentanyl also offers relief from psychological and physical pain. It's no wonder, then, that the drug can be a powerful temptation for people who struggle with mental health issues. More than half of Fentanyl addicts also have a mental health condition. In some cases, the illness predates the addiction. In this scenario, people with mental illnesses rely on Fentanyl as a form of self-medication and a way to alleviate the pain of mental illness.
Occasionally, Fentanyl addiction can actually contribute to the development of mental illness. Over time, Fentanyl changes your biochemistry, making you more vulnerable to mental health concerns. Additionally, Fentanyl can yield serious negative changes in your life. For example, you might lose your job or develop problems in your relationship as a result of your addiction. This, too, can spur mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
When you experience addiction and mental illness as the same time, you have what's known as a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis necessitates immediate and comprehensive help. Fentanyl rehab coupled with Fentanyl detox is often the best option.
Depression and Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl is a depressant, but that doesn't mean it makes you depressed. Instead, the relief it offers from the pain of depression can be extremely tempting for people who struggle with ongoing depression. Additionally, chronic illness is associated with an increased risk of depression. And since many people with chronic illnesses take Fentanyl to deal with pain, many Fentanyl users are already at an increased risk of developing depression.
Whether you began taking Fentanyl as a recreational user or under a doctor's guidance, if you're experiencing symptoms of depression, you need help. It's not enough to quit Fentanyl; instead, you need assistance managing your depression as well as finding healthier ways to treat the disease.
Some Fentanyl addicts fail to realize they have depression. This is especially common among users who become depressed after they start taking Fentanyl. If you experience symptoms of depression, don't try to treat your symptoms with drugs. Instead, seek help. The most common symptoms of depression include:
Anxiety and Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl has fairly strong sedative effects. People with anxiety struggle to feel relaxed, and are often unable to sleep, so the sedative effects of Fentanyl can be intoxicating and highly addictive if you have an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, Fentanyl tends to make anxiety worse over time, in at least two ways. First, the psychological dependence upon the drug can give rise to chronic anxiety, particularly when you can't gain immediate access to Fentanyl. And second, Fentanyl is known to change brain chemistry, potentially making your anxiety worse, or even causing anxiety you didn't previously have.
If you suffer from anxiety – whether the anxiety existed before your addiction or seems to be a product of it – you need professional help that will likely include rehab. Every anxiety disorder is a bit different, requiring disorder-specific treatment. Unsure whether you have an anxiety disorder or just a stressful life? Check out the below symptoms of several common anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Eating Disorders and Fentanyl Addiction
Eating disorders are correlated with a number of personality traits – perfectionism, obsessive tendencies, and a rigid desire for control. While Fentanyl is not in itself a weight loss drug and does not necessarily cause eating disorders, the symptoms of an eating disorder can cause sufferers to turn to drugs to cope. Similarly, the personality of many people with eating disorders can make them more vulnerable to addiction. For example, a perfectionist may be drawn to Fentanyl because it allows her to go about her day without feeling anxious or unproductive.
Whether you've had an eating disorder for years or have only recently developed one, you are in imminent danger. Eating disorders are fatal for about 10% of their victims making early intervention a life-or-death matter. When you pair an eating disorder with an addiction, you can die. Some of the side effects people who use drugs and who have eating disorders sometimes experience include:
Though you might be fixated on Fentanyl at the moment, addiction isn't really about the drug you use. Instead, addiction is a disease that makes you vulnerable to addiction to any drug. Even after you attain sobriety, you'll be vulnerable to subsequent addictions. Fentanyl users are particularly vulnerable to the draw of other opioids, including heroin.
When you quit one drug only to replace it with another, you have a cross-addiction. Cross-addictions usually occur in the first few months after you quit, but can happen anytime. Among Fentanyl addicts, behavioral addictions are especially common because addicts may not realize how profoundly addictive certain behaviors can become.
Sex and Fentanyl Addiction
Sex is a natural feel-good drug, inducing a powerful rush and intense feelings of relaxation. If you rely on Fentanyl to give you a feeling of euphoria, sex is a natural substitute, though one that can lead to serious problems. There's nothing wrong with enjoying sex, but sex addiction occurs when your enjoyment becomes a source of difficulties in your life. Sex addicts continue having sex even when they don't want to because they “need” sex to feel normal. This greatly increases your vulnerability to STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and other dangerous challenges.
If you have several of the following symptoms, you may have a sex addiction:
Gambling and Fentanyl Addiction
Gambling is a serious and common problem, with a stunning 15% of adults struggling with gambling addiction at some point. The rush of gambling neatly mimics the rush of Fentanyl and other drugs, making it a popular cross-addiction. Many forms of gambling remain illegal in some states, which means gambling forces you into an underground world and subjects you to the ongoing risk of arrest. Severe debt and financial problems are also common, with some gamblers turning to bookies to help pay their debts. The strong connection between gambling and organized crime means that a gambling addiction could deprive you of more than your money; it could also claim your life.
If you experience several of the following symptoms, you are probably addicted to gambling:
Addiction is similar to most chronic illnesses in that it comes with a relapse rate of 40% to 60%. You can maximize your chances of making your first quit attempt your last by choosing a treatment method that works for you and your needs. Every addict is different; some prefer the near-constant support of Fentanyl rehab, while others would rather remain rugged individuals and attend 12-step meetings a few times a week. There's no right or wrong answer, as long as you seek some form of treatment. Ask lots of questions about the facility or treatment provider you select, and remember that, if one treatment method doesn't work, you can always change your mind and try something different.
Drug rehab is the single most effective option for treating Fentanyl addiction because care is comprehensive and round-the-clock. Each rehab facility offers something a bit different, but most offer at least the following services:
Therapy During Fentanyl Rehab in Idaho
Almost all rehab facilities offer therapy. But you can also pursue therapy on your own, or try a new therapist after you complete your initial treatment in rehab. You'll have a chance to discuss a range of challenges and concerns in therapy, including:
Medical Care and Fentanyl Detox in Idaho
Fentanyl wreaks havoc on your mind and body. You may need medical assistance to reverse the damage and test for potential long-term problems. Additionally, opioids such as Fentanyl come with serious withdrawal symptoms. It's wise to talk to your doctor before quitting to determine if you're healthy enough to go through withdrawal. Your physician may be able to prescribe you medications to reduce the effects of withdrawal, or to make lifestyle recommendations that can improve your overall health. And finally, if you suffer from mental health symptoms, a physician is the only person who can prescribe mental health drugs such as antidepressants.
Support Groups for Fentanyl Addiction
Many support groups are free, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which is the world's oldest and most popular recovery program. NA utilizes a 12-step model that encourages you to maintain permanent sobriety, make amends to those you've hurt, and work to help other addicts overcome their addiction. If you want some extra help from a peer who's been there, you can pick a sponsor. Your sponsor is a recovering addict who is further along in the program than you are. You and your sponsor will together negotiate the terms of your relationship, but most people use their sponsor as a font of information and wisdom, as well as a support person in the event of a crisis. If you prefer working with other people who have struggled with addictions similar to your own, consider Pills Anonymous instead. This sister program to NA offers support to people who are addicted to prescription medications.
NA also offers help to struggling families, in the form of its family group, Nar-Anon. Teenagers who love an addict can seek help from a similar program Nar-a-Teen.
Although NA is not overtly religious, it does make both direct and indirect spiritual references. Many groups pray, and it's common for meetings to take place in churches. Though the program has helped thousands of people who don't practice any specific religious faith, some atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians prefer secular programs such as SMART Recovery and Rational Recovery.
Help for Your Family: Dealing with Fentanyl Addiction
Getting sober is just the first step on a long journey toward regaining control over your life. Addicts often burn bridges with loved ones, and putting these pieces of these fractured relationships beck together is a vital part of the recovery process. If you need help setting things right with your family, you have a number of options, including:
It's not always easy to make amends to those whom you've hurt, but it is most assuredly worth it. It may have taken months or even years for your addiction to harm your relationships, so it should come as no surprise that putting the pieces back together can take time. Be persistent and willing to listen, and remember that the biggest victims of drug addiction are often the family and friends who have to sit helplessly by as a loved one destroys their life. With enough commitment to working through it, you can and will get your family and your relationships back.
Lifestyle Remedies to Help Beat Fentanyl Addiction
No single lifestyle change can cure your addiction, and a few tweaks here and there are no substitute for dedicated, professional treatment. Lifestyle changes can, however, improve your chances of long-term sobriety and help you avoid a relapse. Try pairing some of the following changes with a healthy recovery program:
The walk from addiction to sobriety is often a long and challenging one. But by becoming sober, you'll learn much about yourself, and you'll gain the chance to combat not only your addiction, but the interpersonal and mental health concerns that led to it in the first place. Most addicts relapse at least once, but by listening to your medical team's advice, taking it slow, and committing to permanent sobriety, you can reduce your risk of relapse.
You might have heard that cravings will last forever; maybe this sounds terrible or has left you scared of even attempting to quit. While cravings do last longer than you might like them to, they most certainly don't last forever. Instead, they gradually taper off, eventually dwindling into nothing. The first two weeks are usually hardest, with many Fentanyl addicts experiencing both physical and psychological withdrawal. Thereafter, your cravings become more manageable, usually only lasting a few minutes.
As your cravings continue to lessen, you'll likely find that you only crave Fentanyl when you're triggered – such as when you're in pain or stressed out, or when you're around another person who abuses the drug. As you resist temptation, though, you'll gain mastery over these triggers until you no longer experience any cravings at all. The amount of time this takes varies and depends on a number of factors, but can range from several weeks to a year or longer.
It's common to feel discouraged when you start experiencing cravings, but the journey toward sobriety has the power to teach you that you really can do anything you set your mind to. Fentanyl is no joke; the addiction is strong and intoxicating, and quitting isn't easy. But thousands of addicts just like you have quit this dangerous drug, and you can, too. The first step toward a better life is admitting you have a problem. From there, you may be surprised to learn how quickly help arrives and how willing loved ones are to help you as you take your first tentative steps toward sobriety.