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The high rate of fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. is a primary reason the opioid crisis is roaring back. Even when prescribed for pain, fentanyl comes with significant risks, especially when combined with alcohol. Combining these two drugs can cause irregular heart rate, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.
Let’s take a closer look at this synthetic opioid, explain what it does to your mind and body and how to find help right away if you’re misusing it.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s typically provided for pain management. The prescription version may come in the form of a tablet, lozenge, or patch. It’s highly addictive and more powerful than heroin or morphine. Illegal manufacturing of the drug may be used to lace other substances, such as cocaine. The drug produces a sense of euphoria, and withdrawal symptoms can include a slower heart rate and shallow breathing.
Treatment for fentanyl addiction is within reach. A residential facility offering dual diagnosis treatment can customize a program to address both addiction and mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
How long does Fentanyl stay in your system?
Fentanyl will usually show up on a urine test between 24-72 hours after last use. Hair tests can detect the drug for up to 3 months, and blood tests can detect it between 5 and 48 hours after use depending on the dose.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is more potent than heroin and has been around for more than 60 years. Fentanyl, classified as an opioid, is one of the most-prescribed painkillers in the United States. It’s related to some more familiar opioids, including oxycodone and morphine.
Fentanyl isn’t made from plants like other opioids, it is manufactured in a lab. That’s what makes it a “synthetic opioid.”
There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is intended for medical use only. It’s manufactured legally and is commonly used to treat severe or post-surgical pain.
Prescription fentanyl or fentanyl administered at the hospital may be introduced to a patient by its brand name (e.g., Duragesic, Abstral, Subsys, and Lonsys). Pharmaceutical fentanyl is available as tablets, lozenges, and patches. Lozenges and patches are intended to release a suitable amount of the drug over time.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl may come in liquid or powder form. While it does get used on its own, it is commonly mixed with other drugs (e.g., heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine). The liquid form can be added to liquid products (e.g., eye drops or nasal sprays), applied to paper products, or added to edible items.
Consuming drugs laced with fentanyl can be extremely harmful and even deadly. In some cases, a person using a fentanyl-laced drug may not know the opioid has been added to it. Without an ingredient list, there’s no way for the average drug user to know what’s truly in a combination of illegal substances.
How Does it Affect Your Mind and Body?
If you’ve ever used fentanyl before, you may think of the high or feeling of euphoria associated with it. While this response is typical, it’s far from the only impact on someone using this opioid. The impact on the mind and body can be extensive or even fatal.
Fentanyl suppresses some central nervous system functions. Users may experience changes to their breathing rate, heart rate, and body temperature regulation. These results are tied to an increase in the release of dopamine in the system. Not only does dopamine produce the feeling of extreme happiness mentioned above, but it can also lead to a relaxed or sedated feeling.
Extended use of fentanyl makes serious changes in the brain. The dopamine, for example, that the brain used to produce on its own no longer gets supplied independently.
Low dopamine can show up in a variety of symptoms, including,
- low sex drive
- and more
Side effects from prescribed fentanyl use can be extensive and include symptoms such as:
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Sleep trouble
- Uncontrollable shaking of the hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
Some more serious side effects may develop with regular fentanyl use, including:
- Changes in heartbeat
- Sexual dysfunction
If you experience one or more of these side effects, it’s vital to call your doctor or seek urgent emergency medical treatment.
Is Fentanyl Addictive?
Fentanyl is a highly addictive drug with a high risk for overdoses, too. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Just one dose of the drug can be enough to create a craving to take it again.
Ending the fentanyl use that supplied your system with dopamine may end up cutting off any pleasure chemicals from being released or the intensity of the good feelings. Without those feelings, a person may shorten the time in between doses or increase the amount consumed each time. Repeated use to restore or maintain the euphoria is what contributes to the threat of developing a substance use disorder tied to fentanyl.
Signs of its addictive properties are apparent in the withdrawal symptoms that appear once it’s out of a person’s system.
How long does fentanyl stay in your system after your last dose?
Tests show varying results for detecting the drug’s presence. It shows up in blood tests up to 48 hours after being taken, urine tests up to three days after, and hair follicle tests up to three months after the drug was last taken.
If you’ve tried to quit using fentanyl you may have experienced various physical symptoms in the days after you last used this opioid (e.g., drowsiness, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting). Trouble focusing or making decisions could be symptoms as well. Your heart rate may slow down and your breathing can be shallow or irregular after ending fentanyl use. You may even feel sedated or lose consciousness.
How to Find Help for a Fentanyl Addiction
Help is available for a substance use disorder involving fentanyl. Inpatient and outpatient resources serve different purposes. Outpatient may be the right solution for someone who’s been misusing the drug and wants help in ending their relationship with fentanyl. A holistic inpatient or residential treatment program is recommended for long-term opioid users.
In a private setting, a patient participates in a residential program that’s personalized to their needs. The structured setting with individual counseling and other interventions guide a patient through the steps needed to create and follow a recovery plan. Even before a program begins, a patient benefits from a medically-supervised detoxification process.
A mental health diagnosis may also occur at the onset of treatment. Identifying the presence of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress is influential in customizing treatment for an individual.
Untreated co-occurring disorders play a significant role in fentanyl addiction. Addressing mental health needs while in treatment for opioid addiction increases the chance for a successful recovery.
Sustaining sobriety after a program involves planning for what’s to come following the end of residential treatment. Continuing care is available in the form of an alumni program at Origins’ facilities. At Headwaters, an Alumni Care Coordinator is assigned to a patient upon admission. In one-on-one sessions and group meetings, a patient can learn how to seamlessly transition from a therapeutic environment to their home and personal life spaces and places.
The support of an Alumni Care Coordinator is invaluable and comes in the form of emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings. A patient in treatment is also encouraged to repair relationships through family therapy and build a support system to help sustain sobriety. Support can come from actively participating in alumni group conversations. These exchanges promote building rapport through empathy and good communication skills and creating shared experiences.
Headwaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of addiction treatment programs for executives and their families targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.