Fentanyl is an opiate that is significantly stronger than morphine, by about 50-100 times, and also 40-50 times more potent than heroin. This opiate is a narcotic designed as a pain reliever and one of the most addictive and damaging substances introduced on the market. Fentanyl was originally manufactured as a man-made drug to relieve severe pain, typically after major surgeries. It was created in a lab in the late 1950s, and aside from treating patients post surgery, it also assists those experiencing chronic pain. It comes in several varying forms, like tablets, patches, sprays, injections, or lollipops (or commonly, lozenges).
Fentanyl can be easily overdosed, which makes it an even more dangerous drug. Often times, fentanyl is added to heroin or cocaine in order to increase the high. Many drug users do not realize that the drug they are using has been cut with fentanyl, greatly increasing their risk of overdose. Taking either cocaine or heroin that has been unknowingly cut with fentanyl can prove fatal and has caused numerous overdoses in the United States. It is strongly advised to not experiment with either drug recreationally.
What Does Fentanyl Do to the Brain?
This drug affects the brain by inhibiting its pain and emotion receptors. Fentanyl, much like heroin, will increase the brain’s dopamine levels in the reward centers, leading to a state of euphoria. This state of euphoria is the high that users experience. Research has proven that the more dopamine is released, the faster the onset of addiction, so relatively speaking, the stronger the drug, the faster and stronger the craving.
What are the Fatalities and Withdrawal Symptoms?
It does not take much fentanyl to become addicted or even fatal. CNN states that a dose as small as .25 milligrams can prove to be fatal for some. Overdose fatalities from drugs like fentanyl doubled from 2013 to 2104, making the drug a national crisis. Patients on a prescription fentanyl should continually consult and update their physician.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
-Tightness in the chest
-Drastic mood changes
-A rapidly increased heartbeat paired with slowed breathing
-Hallucinations and general confusion
-Vomiting and nausea
An increased length of an addiction to fentanyl will equally increase the risk of overdose and subsequently, death. A prolonged addiction to fentanyl will also persist the deterioration of mental stability and increase illness such as depression, mood swings, and anxiety.
Treatment Options for Fentanyl Addiction
Treatments for fentanyl addiction can vary depending on the patient. Counselling paired with medication like methadone, which helps alleviates withdrawal symptoms, has the highest chance of success in relieving opioid addiction. Treatment facilities are also available to those suffering from addiction across the United States. A sober living facility will often provide both counselling and medication dedicated to patients’ needs.