Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that obstructs the pain receptors in a person’s brain and boosts dopamine chemical production. There is a high potential of fentanyl addiction, and users report an intense euphoria and other outcomes similar to using heroin.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a very dangerous and powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Although it is a prescription drug, it is also made and used illegally. Similar to morphine, it is a medicine that is usually used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgeries. It is also sometimes used to treat a patient with chronic pain who is physically tolerant to other opioids. We have talked a lot about tolerance WVD's previous articles, and we know that tolerance occurs when you need a higher and/or more frequent amount of a drug to get the desired effects, especially when using heroin.
In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.
Some brand names and forms for fentanyl include:
This form of fentanyl comes as a lozenge on a plastic stick administered under the tongue like a lollipop. It is used for patients already on pain-relieving medications and has some military applications.
The fentanyl patch was introduced in the 1990s. It is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and its effects can last for up to 3 days.
Generally administered in hospitals, sometimes alongside anesthetics, Sublimaze is the injectable form of fentanyl. It is used to manage pain before and after surgeries.
Subsys is a sublingual spray administered under a patient’s tongue to deliver immediate pain relief. Its purpose is to treat breakthrough cancer pain.
Also used for opioid-tolerant patients with breakthrough cancer pain, Abstral is the quick-dissolve tablet version of fentanyl and is placed under the tongue for immediate relief.
Lazanda is a fentanyl nasal spray administered in the same manner as a common nasal decongestant spray. It is predominantly used to treat pain in cancer patients.
There are also other street names for illegally used fentanyl include
- China Girl
- China White
- Dance Fever
- Tango and Cash
Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the USA.
How do People use Fentanyl?
In the case this drug is prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch that is put on a person’s skin, or as lozenges that are sucked like cough drops. Meanwhile, the illegally used fentanyl most commonly associated with recent overdoses is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.
Some drug dealers often mix the fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a cheap but dangerous additive. They might be taking stronger opioids than their bodies are used to and can be more likely to overdose.
How does fentanyl affect the brain?
Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain receptors and emotions. After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug. When people become addicted, drug-seeking and drug use take over their lives.
Fentanyl's effects may include:
- Extreme happiness
- Problems breathing
The Dangers of Fentanyl
In the case of Fentanyl abuse, it can be extremely dangerous and can cause up to overdose. The potency of the drug can result in people becoming addicted to the drug easily. As their tolerance increases, more and more of the drug is needed to fight off withdrawal symptoms, which can be highly dangerous. Larger doses can see the respiratory system depress to the point of failure.
When combined with other drugs such as heroin, morphine, or methadone, the risk of death increases.
Some doctors stated that there are dangers of addiction when Fentanyl is prescribed. Some patients presenting with addiction started when medication was prescribed for pain. They find themselves unable to stop taking it once the pain is resolved. The risks are similar to other opioid drugs but occur with much smaller doses.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
If you are concerned a woman or girl is struggling with fentanyl abuse, there are certain warning signs and fentanyl addiction symptoms to look for. It is very important to remember that these behaviors and symptoms don’t necessarily mean a woman or girl is suffering from fentanyl addiction, but they might warrant a greater conversation.
These are examples of warning signs and fentanyl addiction symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusually happy
Prevalence of Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl use is contributing to a growing number of overdose deaths in the United States, with illegally made fentanyl becoming increasingly accessible. Without professional treatment, countless women and girls who are struggling with fentanyl abuse are at risk of accidental overdose, adverse health effects, or harm to their everyday lives.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 10% from 2017 to 2018.
- More than 31,000 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl in 2018 alone.
- Law enforcement attributes the increase in fentanyl overdose deaths to illegally made fentanyl rather than prescription fentanyl.
When an adolescent girl or adult woman develops a fentanyl addiction, she will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when she tries to stop taking the drug without professional help. Effects of this might include:
- Intense fentanyl cravings
- Muscle and bone pain
- Uncontrollable leg spasms
- Trouble sleeping
- Cold flashes and goosebumps
- Diarrhea and vomiting
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and distressing, which is why many women and girls find it difficult to stop taking fentanyl on their own. With the expert support of the staff at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, you can go through detox with minimal discomfort.
Choosing the Right Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
The cycle of fentanyl addiction can destroy the best parts of your life. You risk losing the ones you love most, struggling to keep a job, failing grades, and overdose.
But you don’t have to stay stuck in this cycle. You can take back control from fentanyl addiction through treatment at West Valley Detox. We provide fentanyl addiction treatment that we individualize to your specific life experiences, medical history, and recovery goals.
Our residential fentanyl addiction treatment offers women and girls round-the-clock care in a secure environment that allows them to focus on achieving sobriety. Adult women benefit from structured, daylong care in our partial hospitalization program (PHP) with the option to go home at night or stay in one of our on-campus residences.