Although fentanyl is a prescription drug, it can be dangerous and addictive. Fentanyl is an opiate – and is much stronger than heroin addiction and morphine addiction.
If you or your loved one is dependent on fentanyl and has a fentanyl addiction, we can help to find the right treatment for you.
Contact us today to discuss your treatment options. However, the first step to overcoming an addiction is by learning about the drug and the drug addiction. Read on to learn more about fentanyl, fentanyl addiction, and fentanyl withdrawal.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is used to treat severe pain/ chronic pain – whether it be during an operation or to relieve pain from cancer. You may be prescribed fentanyl if weaker painkillers (e.g stronger doses of codeine) have stopped working.
As fentanyl can be dangerous and addictive, it is only available on prescription. You can find fentanyl in the form of nasal spray, lozenges and tablets that dissolve in your mouth, as well as patches that you place on your skin. You can also be given fentanyl via injection – but this is only usually available in hospital settings. [i]
Fentanyl patches are a common form of fentanyl. Typically, each fentanyl patch lasts approximately 72 hours (three days) – which means you should change your patch every three days. It’s important to ensure that you follow the recommended dose as given by your doctor.[ii]
Fentanyl is an Opioid Drug
Fentanyl, like morphine and heroin, is an opioid drug that affects your body’s opioid receptors, relieving pain and the anxiety related to pain. This can make you feel relaxed.
It’s a synthetic opioid – however, synthetic fentanyl is around 50 times more strong than heroin – and up to 100 times more strong than morphine. Synthetic opioids should be used with caution and doctors’ advice should always be taken seriously.
You can find two types of fentanyl – pharmaceutical fentanyl that is prescribed, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl that can be dangerous and deadly. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl isn’t regulated, and there is always the risk of overdose when taking it. [iii]
This type of fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs as it is so potent – and has a heroin-like effect. People will add fentanyl to their drugs to make them cheaper and more addictive – however, this is much more dangerous than using pharmaceutical fentanyl as prescribed.
When you abuse fentanyl or use illegal fentanyl, you may experience a fentanyl overdose. This is a medical emergency and usually requires hospital treatment. Here are some signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blue tinge to lips and fingernails
- Lower blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
What are Opioid Drugs?
Opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and of course, fentanyl – are pain relievers. Typically, these are legal through prescription (minus heroin) – and are effective at relieving pain. However, they can be addictive and there is always a chance of developing a physical dependence on them.[iv]
If you think you may have an opioid addiction/ opiate addiction, we can help you find the right treatment for you – whether it be a 7-day rehab treatment, 14-day rehab treatment, 28-day rehab treatment, or a longer course of opioid addiction treatment.
Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction
Even if fentanyl is prescribed for a short period of time, it’s possible to get addicted and develop a physical dependence and a psychological dependence. If you are addicted to fentanyl after being prescribed, you may seek to buy the drug elsewhere – for example, from drug dealers.
There are many behavioural symptoms of fentanyl addiction, as well as psychological symptoms and physical symptoms. For example:
- Erratic behaviour
- Lack of appetite
- Drug cravings
- Low mood/ depression
- Lack of appetite
- Pale skin
- Problems with digestion
If you notice these signs in yourself or a loved one, then we recommend speaking with one of our friendly Help4Addiction advisors to find out the treatment options available to you.
You may experience fentanyl drug withdrawal symptoms when you cease taking it. These can be unpleasant and sometimes dangerous – and may require medical assistance. Often, to manage the unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms and psychological withdrawal symptoms, pharmacological management is necessary.
This involves providing methadone or buprenorphine in an inpatient setting/ residential rehab or an outpatient treatment centre. [v]
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. When withdrawing from fentanyl, you may experience a combination of physical withdrawal symptoms and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Here are some common withdrawal symptoms:
- Feeling tired
- Chills and cold sweats
- Aches and pains
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Mental health problems (depression/ anxiety)
- Intense fentanyl cravings/ drug cravings
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
The first stage of fentanyl addiction treatment involves detoxing from the drug. If you have a severe physical dependence on fentanyl, you’ll likely experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. In this instance, you may need medical assistance when detoxing – or a medically supervised detox with methadone or buprenorphine.
The detox process can last between five and seven days – however, with more severe addictions, it can take over ten days. There are several factors that can affect how long it will take to successfully detox from the drug – for example, your height and weight, the length of your addiction, and the amount of fentanyl you’re used to taking.
Once you have successfully completed the fentanyl detox process, you will move on to the next stage of rehab treatment – therapy. Therapy can help you to gain a thorough understanding of your addiction, your triggers, and the root causes of your addiction. This can be helpful in preventing detox and can ease the transition back into society.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful in understanding your thoughts, behaviours, and feelings and how they may affect your addiction. You may also be offered holistic therapies or counselling on a one to one basis – as well as group sessions.
You may also be offered secondary treatment to help to ease the transition and to help you to live a drug-free life. After completing therapy, you may go home but remain attending therapy sessions or support groups on an outpatient basis.
How Help4Addiction Can Help You
At Help4Addiction, we can help to find the right rehabilitation centre for you and your circumstances. With centres located around England and Wales, we can find you the ideal local treatment centre.
Whether you’re taking opioids or other drugs, we can help you to beat your addiction once and for all.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Fentanyl Make You Feel?
How Do You Know If You Were Given Fentanyl?
If you think you may have been given fentanyl, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Some symptoms of fentanyl poisoning include:
- Problems with breathing
- Slow breathing
- Chilly skin
- Comatosed state