If you or a loved one is using fentanyl, treatment is vitally important–the sooner, the better. Fentanyl is highly addictive and the risk of overdose is very possible. And sadly, the risk of death from overdose is equally high. Currently, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the U.S. If you live in the state of Washington and need help, there is comprehensive treatment available at Bayview Recovery Center in Tacoma, Washington.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is made and used illegally. It is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. Like morphine, fentanyl is a medicine that is usually used to treat patients with extreme pain, particularly after surgery.
Sometimes it is used to treat people with chronic pain who have become tolerant of other opioids. (Tolerance happens when you need a higher or more frequent dose to get the necessary effects.) Fentanyl is known by Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze in its prescription form.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs found naturally in the opium poppy plant. Some opioid drugs are made directly from the plant, such as morphine, and others, like fentanyl, are made in labs using the same chemical structure. They may be synthetic or semi-synthetic. And opioid drugs may also sometimes be called opiates, narcotics, or painkillers. Other examples of substances treated in an opioid rehab program include:
Fentanyl’s Effects on the Brain
Fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, the same as morphine, heroin, and other opioid drugs. These receptors are found in areas of the brain that control emotions and pain. After using opioids many times, the brain adjusts to the drug which lowers its sensitivity and makes it hard to feel pleasure from anything else besides the drug.
Effects of fentanyl include:
- Extreme happiness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing problems
- Loss of consciousness
Can Prescription Fentanyl Lead to Addiction?
Yes, it can. An individual taking prescription drugs like fentanyl as instructed can begin to experience dependence. Dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using the drug. You can be dependent on a substance without being addicted. However, dependence may lead to addiction. Our prescription drug treatment center can help you or your loved one recover.
Both illegal opioids and legally prescribed opioids can cause euphoria–an extreme feeling of well-being–in certain people. Not everyone experiences this when taking opioids. For the people who do, there is a high risk of using the drug repeatedly because of the way it makes them feel.
This experience is why opioid drugs are very addictive and can lead to opioid use disorder (OUD). Using any opioid for the euphoric effect, even for a short time, increases the risk of OUD, overdose, and death. When a person becomes addicted, drug use and drug-seeking take over their life.
The nonmedical use of opioids may include swallowing tablets or capsules, crushing tablets and inhaling the powder, or injecting the opioid into a vein (this raises the risk of infection, hepatitis, and HIV).
About 75% of people who became addicted to street opioids in the U.S. during the 2000s reported that they started their opioid use taking opioids that were prescribed for them.
People with OUD often experience financial problems because of the high cost of getting drugs illegally. This can lead to stealing other people’s opioid medications, personal items, or cash.
Addiction is the most severe level of substance use disorder (SUD) and may range from mild to severe. SUDs are identified by:
- Compulsive drug seeking
- Drug use that is hard to control
- Using the drug despite harmful consequences to their health
Continuing to use despite harm to relationships, school, or work performance
Can You Overdose on Fentanyl?
Yes, you certainly can overdose on fentanyl. An overdose happens when a drug causes serious adverse effects and symptoms that are life-threatening. A fentanyl overdose can slow a person’s breathing or stop it completely. This decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This is a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia then can cause a coma and permanent brain damage and possibly death.
How is a Fentanyl Overdose Treated?
Since many drug dealers mix the cheaper fentanyl with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine, it is often difficult to know which drug is causing the overdose. The medication, naloxone can treat a fentanyl overdose when administered right away. Naloxone (brand name Narcan) works by quickly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioids. But because fentanyl is stronger than other opioid drugs, it might require multiple doses.
If you think someone has overdosed, the most important step is to call 911 to get immediate medical attention. When the medical personnel arrives, tell them opioids have been consumed (if you know) and If you don’t know, they will give naloxone if they believe an opioid drug is involved. Individuals who have been given naloxone should be watched for another two hours after the last dose to make sure their breathing has not slowed down or stopped.
Anyone who uses opioids, even if they’re prescribed by a doctor, or has family or friends who do use opioids, should have naloxone in their emergency kit, just in case. In addition, because fentanyl can be found in just about any illicit drug bought on the street or online, it’s good for anyone who uses any substance to carry naloxone.
Naloxone in Washington
In Washington State, all pharmacies are able to provide naloxone directly to people, without a prescription. Also, you can order free naloxone kits by mail. This program is meant for people who can’t easily go to a pharmacy or a community organization to get a kit. For more information about where you can find naloxone in Washington, visit StopOverdose.org. Family, friends, and others in the community can use the nasal spray version to save someone’s life.
People addicted to fentanyl who suddenly stop using it can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may begin as soon as a few hours after the last dose. They include:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Problems sleeping
- Chills with goosebumps
- Severe cravings
- Uncontrollable leg movements
These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Many people find it difficult to stop taking fentanyl and relapse before fully detoxing. This is why fentanyl addiction treatment usually begins with a medical detox. There are medicines that help with the withdrawal process for fentanyl and other opioids.
What is Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Like?
The same as other opioid addictions, medication with behavioral therapies has been proven to be effective in treating fentanyl addiction.
Medications for opioid use disorders are effective, safe, and ultimately, save lives. These medications interact with the same opioid receptors in the brain on which fentanyl acts but they don’t produce the same effects.
- Methadone–Methadone is an opioid receptor full agonist. This means that it attaches to and activates opioid receptors which ease the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.
- Buprenorphine–Buprenorphine is an opioid receptor partial agonist. A partial agonist attaches to and partially activates the opioid receptors, easing the withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone–This is an opioid receptor antagonist. Naltrexone prevents fentanyl from being able to attach to opioid receptors, completely blocking its effects.
- Lofexidine–Lofexidine is a non-opioid medication meant to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
- NSS-2 Bridge–This device is a small electrical nerve stimulator that’s placed behind the individual’s ear. It can be used for up to five days to ease symptoms during the acute withdrawal phase.
Behavioral therapies for addiction to fentanyl and other opioids can help people adjust their attitudes and behaviors as they relate to drug use, learn skills for healthy living, and continue taking their medication
These treatment approaches are proven to be effective, particularly when used with medication.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps modify the person’s negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive changes in behavior.
- Contingency Management (CM): CM uses a voucher system giving peoplae “points” for healthy behaviors such as clean drug tests or attendance and participation at group sessions. The points can be used to earn items that encourage healthy living.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI addresses a person’s mixed feelings and finding their motivations to change.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is a form of CBT that addresses self-destructive behaviors and teaches skills to cope with, and change, unhealthy behaviors.
Working one-on-one with a trained addiction therapist, a person may find underlying reasons for their opioid abuse and develop a program to address the dual diagnosis of SUD and a mental disorder.
Addiction affects every member of a family, not just the individual with the disorder. Family therapy helps family members understand addiction and help them readjust to a new family dynamic without addiction.
As the name implies, a person in a residential rehab program resides at the treatment center with 24-hour supervision.
A partial hospitalization program is similar in intensity to a residential program. The only difference is that you go home at the end of each treatment day. It can be considered the highest level of outpatient care.
IOPs are a step down from PHPs and may be used as a follow-up to one of the higher levels. At this level, fewer hours are spent at the treatment center.
A standard outpatient program requires less time in the treatment facility than the higher levels. It is also a good step down program from a higher level of care. Continuing treatment is the key to maintaining abstinence.
People wishing to recover from fentanyl addiction need a complete opioid detox, that is, clearing the substance from their body. There are two ways to detox–cold turkey and tapering. However, stopping cold turkey can be life-threatening and the cravings that result make it a method that is destined to fail.
Anyone who chooses to detox from opioids at home needs to stay in touch with a medical professional and have someone at home in case of an emergency.
Your Recovery Journey at Bayview Recovery Center
Bayview Recovery Center is a treatment facility in Tacoma, WA. Bayview can provide you with proven, successful outpatient care with experienced addiction specialists. After completing a detox, we can offer outpatient levels of care from PHP to standard OP.
In addition, we have a sober living program for individuals who aren’t ready to take that final step to independence. In our medically established homes, you can focus on your recovery. You can live in a drug and alcohol-free environment while still attending an outpatient program.
At Bayview Recovery, we can provide Washington rehab programs to make sure that you have the best possible program for your needs.
For people with a co-occurring mental disorder, we can provide a dual diagnosis program. It is a necessity for people with a dual diagnosis to have both disorders treated simultaneously and preferably, by the same treatment team.
At our mental health treatment center, we are as experienced at treating mental disorders as substance use disorders. Among other problems, our mental health professionals offer treatment for:
- Bipolar Disorder
There is real help for you or your loved one. Recovery is possible with the professionals at Bayview Recovery. Contact us today.
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