Fentanyl is one of the most potent drugs on the market today. It is considered an opioid painkiller that is as much as 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Because of this, fentanyl is highly addictive and easily causes withdrawal once a person stops taking it. Withdrawal symptoms will cause people to want to keep taking the drug.
Fentanyl is designed to help treat cases of severe pain. It is typically only prescribed to people who have cancer or just had major surgery. This is not a drug that is meant to be given for mild pain symptoms, as natural opioids can be prescribed for that. It may be provided to help treat chronic pain if it is bad enough.
This drug has numerous street names, such as Apache, China girl, and China white. Most people who abuse fentanyl get it off the street illegally. Fentanyl is often mixed with other potent drugs. This combination can cause overdose and even death.
Fentanyl Patch Addiction
One of the ways fentanyl is prescribed to patients is through a patch. Fentanyl patches are placed directly on the skin to deliver the right dose of medicine over some time. These patches are controlled, and the drug is time-released. Therefore, many people wonder if these types of patches are addictive.
These patches still deliver the same fentanyl euphoria and cause physical dependence. Many people who abuse fentanyl patches do so by wearing more than one at a time. Abuse typically begins with a person taking more than what they are prescribed.
Worse yet, many people chew patches and swallow the medicine or remove the gel inside the patch to inject into their body. These actions are extremely dangerous and should never be done.
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
Many people who take fentanyl do so as directed by their doctor. It is usually for brief and short-term use. While these people rarely feel the need to abuse this drug, it is easy to become addicted to, if they do. Their brains will crave the high, and when it is not there, they will show physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Here are several behavioral symptoms from fentanyl abuse:
- Strange and erratic behavior
- Quitting activities the once enjoyed
- Social isolation
- Being deceptive to acquire more fentanyl
- Seemingly unable to control the amount of drugs they take
- Continuing to use this drug even when the situation does not warrant it
Physical signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse include:
- Racing heart
- Slow breathing
- Swollen hands and feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Intense craving for fentanyl
The effects of fentanyl abuse can be dangerous and rob a person of their health and happiness. Many people who become addicted to these opioid drugs often do so at the expense of family, friends, relationships, and even their jobs. Several of these effects include:
- Legal trouble
- Sexual dysfunction
- Social isolation
- Loss of child custody
- Polysubstance (multiple drug) abuse
- Job loss
- Damage to internal organs
- Damage to key relationships
- Family problems
The Trouble with Stopping Fentanyl
Just like any other opioid, fentanyl is extremely addictive. The chemicals in this drug bind to brain receptors that impact the central nervous system. These opioid receptors in the brain are what allow these medications to help treat pain and emotional suffering. When the drug does bind to these receptors, it floods the brain with dopamine, a feel-good chemical.
Many addictions begin this way because of the flood of dopamine and euphoric feelings trigger the brain’s reward centers. Essentially, what you take causes euphoria, and makes you want more, and your mind will continually seek it out. This is what creates a physical dependence on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms begin almost right away after you stop taking it.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you take fentanyl for longer than prescribed, or you take more of it than you should, physical dependence will occur. Your brain and your body will crave the substance, making you physiologically dependent on that drug. As soon as you stop taking it, you will start to get sick, and it will feel uncomfortable.
Here are several of the withdrawal symptoms you can expect if you stop taking fentanyl suddenly:
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Aches and pains
- Abdominal cramping
When you become physically dependent, your body will want more and more of the drug. A single dose would no longer be enough to produce the same euphoric highs you desire. Those who take more than prescribed are at extreme risk of overdose. Several of the symptoms of fentanyl overdose include:
- Slurred speech
- Slow breathing
- Poor coordination
- Passing out
- Cold, clammy skin
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Many people try to quit taking opioid drugs on their own. They may think they can handle it, but the withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe. No one should attempt detox on their own as it often requires medical supervision. Relapses are very common because the desire for the drug is so strong.
85% of people who suffer from opioid addiction relapse within the first year. This is because the person is not adequately prepared for what happens during the recovery process. Medical detox is a great way to help overcome these uncomfortable symptoms. A professional addiction doctor can treat symptoms and offer other medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms.