Doctors may prescribe fentanyl for pain management when other pain medications are ineffective. However, it is only prescribed to people at least eighteen years old and in extreme cases of pain due to its high risk of addiction and potential for overdose. When prepared as a prescription, fentanyl is available as a shot, tablet, or long-lasting patch.
The chance of ingesting a lethal dose of fentanyl increases when the product is illegally obtained because the exact makeup of the drug is usually unknown. Illegal fentanyl is most frequently distributed as a powder, on blotter paper, or in pill form so that it can be disguised as other medications. Fentanyl powder is particularly dangerous as it is frequently cut with other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or meth.
Fentanyl has no smell, flavor, or color, so it is virtually impossible to detect without test strips. Hence, fentanyl overdoses are a common occurrence. In 2017, 59% of all opioid-related deaths were caused by fentanyl.2
One of the dangers of fentanyl is its high addiction potential. Some of the most common symptoms of fentanyl addiction include:
It is important to note that some medications can worsen the side effects of fentanyl when taken simultaneously. Some combinations, such as fentanyl and codeine, can increase the potencies of both drugs, leading to severe side effects and potentially a fatal fentanyl overdose.
These side effects can quickly become dangerous because they directly impact the body’s central nervous system. Enough fentanyl can cause the respiratory system to stop working properly, causing the person to stop breathing.
Because of the severe risks fentanyl can cause, it is essential to learn about fentanyl overdose symptoms.
If you suspect someone is experiencing symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, call 911 immediately.
The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
Several steps are available in the fentanyl overdose treatment plan. These will be detailed below.
Typically, as with any other illicit substance, treatment will begin with medical detoxification. Patients are usually given methadone to help them wean off fentanyl safely and with fewer withdrawal symptoms.
Once patients complete detoxification, the next step is therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common form of psychotherapy for those recovering from substance abuse. Nonetheless, other evidence-based therapies are available, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing.
Outpatient programs offer treatments without requiring patients to live at the recovery facility. This option is ideal for those with less severe cases and can maintain a healthy routine and environment outside the facility.
Recovery doesn’t end after a patient has gone through detox and rehab, as they will still require support from friends, family, and their treatment team. The goal of recovery is to help people improve their lives by living and maintaining a healthy, positive, and substance-free lifestyle.
If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl addiction, contact us at Iris Healing® today to learn about our treatment options. We are here to help you recover and take charge of your life.