Reportedly, fentanyl is 100 times stronger than heroin obtained on the street and morphine. Over recent years, statistics have shown that fentanyl-related deaths have increased and continue to rise.
What Exactly Is Fentanyl?
It is an extremely powerful drug that is known for its use with patients who are terminally ill. Patients in ICU and the operating room also are often given fentanyl. It can be given by mouth in a lozenge, a pill or a dissolving film, in a skin-applied patch, an IV or a shot. The drug works to reduce pain by targeting the receptors in the spinal cord and brain. Criminal use of the drug can include injecting, snorting and smoking.
Fentanyl Use Signs and Symptoms
Fentanyl is an opioid, which means it has the ability to increase tolerance to the drug the more and more that the drug is taken. Ultimately, this leads to an enhanced physical dependency on the medication and an increased risk of accidental overdose and potential death. This is particularly true if the fentanyl user is using other drugs, including other opiates, benzodiapines (like Valium or Xanax) or even alcohol. In some cases, an accidental overdose can occur when fentanyl users are using the patch and use multiple patches at the same time to in an attempt to enhance their high.
Some of the side effects associated with fentanyl include drowsiness, lightheadness, dry mouth, nausea, sweating, depressed breathing, diarrhea, constipation, urination troubles, hallucinations and confusion. Women who are pregnant run the risk of passing the fentanyl drug onto their unborn babies, while mothers who are nursing run the risk passing the fentanyl drug onto their newborns via their breast milk.
Fentanyl Medical Detox
When a user first stops using fentanyl, it is the most severe. Withdrawal symptoms vary from anxiety and confusion, insomnia and hot flashes to severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite and night sweats. Users may also experience constipation, body muscle aches, tremors and increased breathing. These symptoms can be scary, which is why many doctors suggest that users undergo medical detox.
Medical detox can be obtained in two different settings: inpatient or outpatient. Outpatient detox will allow a patient to receive a particular type of medication (usually Suboxone or Methadone) to take home with them and use for detoxing on their own. Daily routines remain the same and patients will self-report to their physician. Inpatient medical detox will be placed in a hospital or medical facility where outside communication is at a bare minimum if not completely restricted. Withdrawal symptoms are well-managed and patients are kept comfortable and safe throughout the detox process.
Once the detox process is complete, it is recommended that patients complete a rehabilitation program that will assist them in rebuilding their lives that consist of zero drugs. This program will help patients realize that it is possible to turn their lives around and equip them with the knowledge to help them make changes that will last a lifetime.