Fentanyl Abuse
By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: December 23, 2019

Fentanyl abuse is prevalent today. The drug fentanyl belongs to a class of drugs called opiates that includes other drugs such as heroin and morphine. Originally created as a pain reliever, fentanyl is for pain associated with serious diseases such as cancer. Also, when tolerance to other opiates makes them no longer useful, fentanyl is used. Like the other opiates, Fentanyl is very addictive. Many of those who end up with Fentanyl abuse started out taking it as a prescription. Knowledge truly is power, and knowing all you can about Fentanyl and Fentanyl abuse will help you understand why an opioid addiction treatment program is necessary.

How Fentanyl Abuse Happens

Your brain has opioid receptors. When you take an opioid-like Fentanyl, it binds to these receptors and releases the brain’s feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin. You get a feeling of elation. The Fentanyl is stronger than the body’s own natural chemicals, so the brain stops producing these. After a time, the only way that serotonin and the other chemicals can be released is when you take the drug.

Because the high produced from Fentanyl is so much stronger than even that of heroin, it takes less of the drug to produce the desired effect. Illegal drug dealers play on this and often mix the drug with heroin or cocaine. It is cheaper than other drugs because of the need for less, but it is also more likely to produce both dependence and overdose. This is especially true if the user is not aware that Fentanyl has been mixed with another drug.

When a person is prescribed Fentanyl because of an accident, surgery, or chronic pain, they quickly become dependent on the drug. Doctors are aware of this possibility and will often limit the amount of the drug they prescribe and stop prescribing it after a time.  People are often already dependent on Fentanyl at this point and will often seek out other ways to obtain it in order to avoid the withdrawal effects that occur. This is where those who make illegal versions of the drug come into the picture.

Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl has many short-term and long-term effects. Over time, you will find your immune system can become compromised, making illness more likely. Stomach and other intestinal problems are also common. Eventually, as your dependency deepens, you will find yourself becoming increasingly isolated socially. Your personality will change, and you may find yourself experiencing delusional thinking and paranoia. Many people end up losing their family and friends as the changes worsen, and intervention attempts fail. Most will eventually lose their jobs as the cravings increase. Legal and financial troubles are also a real possibility.

Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse

After the initial detox period, treatment for Fentanyl abuse takes time and effort. A commonly included treatment plan is cognitive-behavioral therapy. We will also test you for any co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Along with PTSD, fentanyl users most commonly experience these mental illnesses. A support group and classes on stress management and healthy coping skills also become part of treatment. The initial physical detox is normally over within a week, with the worst side effects occurring at the 2-3 day point. The psychological effects, however, last much longer. For some people, the changes in brain structure and chemicals can make a recovery last longer.

Let Lakeview Health Help

If you are experiencing a problem with Fentanyl abuse, contact Lakeview Health today. Find out what we can do to help you get past your addiction and move toward a drug-free future. We base our combinations of therapies on proven results. We also help you discover your own strength and help give you the coping tools you need to continue your recovery long after you have completed our program. The road to success starts with a phone call.