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Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. This potent and highly addictive opiate is prescribed for a range of acute and chronic pain conditions, and also administered for anesthesia and analgesia during medical operations.
The drug works by increasing dopamine and blocking pain receptors in the brain, making it a highly abused prescription drug. Fentanyl can be abused for its euphoric and sedative effects, with the strong nature of this drug often leading to overdose and addiction. Overdoses are common as this drug is hundreds of times more potent than street heroin.
The drug can be administered in a variety of forms, including a trans dermal patch, via injection, an oral spray, as a lozenge, as a quick-dissolving tablet and a nasal spray. Street names for fentanyl include China girl. China white, apache, TNT, dance fever and crush.
Opioid painkillers such as fentanyl are the most widely abused class of prescription medication. Prescription medications like fentanyl are increasingly being sold on the black market, where they are often mixed with heroin and other opioid narcotics. While most people obtain prescription drugs freely from friends or family members, they may also be obtained through multiple doctor prescriptions or bought illegally on the street.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 6 million adult Americans misuse or over-use opioids each year.
Those who regularly take fentanyl to experience a euphoric “high” are at an increased risk for addiction. Prescription opioids and other medications can be abused in many ways, including combining medications, increasing dosage levels, and using a different method of administration than prescribed.
Signs that someone you care about is abusing fentanyl may include:
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Like other opioids, fentanyl dependence is associated with a strong withdrawal syndrome. Both physical and emotional symptoms are possible upon drug discontinuation. Medical detox is recommended to help alleviate these withdrawal symptoms.
Common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:
- Body tremors
- Cold sweats
- Abdominal cramps and pain
Some of these symptoms can cause additional medical complications if left untreated. Methadone and other drugs can be prescribed throughout the withdrawal period to ensure patients do not suffer from severe symptoms. It’s important to find a qualified medical detox and treatment facility in order to avoid serious health risks and be able to detox in a safe and comfortable environment.
Fentanyl addiction needs to be treated through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Drug rehab centers offer a range of treatment options that can be custimzed to fit the patient’s needs. While detox enables the cessation of drug use under medical supervision, therapy is also needed to address the emotional and environmental precursors of drug addiction. Depending on the person’s addiction history and current health, they may need to enter an residential drug treatment program. Others who cannot leave their responsibilities at home or work may be more suited for an outpatient treatment program.
Common addiction treatment models include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational incentives
- 12-step recovery support programs
- Family therapy
- Relapse prevention programs
Abuse, N. I. (2016, June 03). Fentanyl. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl
- Abuse, N. I. (2014, May 14). America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse
Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). Summary. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/director
Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 07:26 pm