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Of all the prescription painkillers people commonly abuse, none are as powerful – or as deadly – as fentanyl. A synthetic opiate pain reliever, fentanyl is typically prescribed for pain control to patients with severe pain or injury or to patients who have undergone a surgery. Frequently administered in a hospital setting, illicit fentanyl produced in clandestine laboratories is increasingly cutting a deadly swath through drug users. Owing to its pain relieving and relaxing effect, fentanyl is often sought out illegally and mixed with heroin and cocaine to heighten its effects.

Similar to any other opioid drug, fentanyl works by binding to body’s opioid receptors and producing a state of relaxation and euphoria. Hard to believe, in 2015, there were 6.5 million fentanyl prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. and 4.55 million prescriptions were dispensed during the first nine months of 2016. Abused for its intense euphoric effects, fentanyl-related overdose deaths jumped from 550 in 2013 to 2000 in 2014.

Intentional or otherwise, there may be no more dangerous substance habit than fentanyl drug abuse. Sovereign Health knows the desperate circumstances that often drive drug habits, and our Chandler, Arizona, facility for our women patients offers a safe, comfortable place to move beyond fentanyl addiction and into a happier life.

Fentanyl drug abuse

Fentanyl is prescribed via injection, patch or in lozenge form. Outside of fentanyl patch abuse, illicit fentanyl is sold as powder – often called “china white” – or on blotter paper. Often, illicit fentanyl is sold as or added to heroin or pain pills. The danger of fentanyl lies is its strength – the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine as an analgesic. Fentanyl is usually prescribed for patients who are dealing with severe pain, as well as chronic pain patients who do not respond to other opioid medications.

Most people who abuse fentanyl often move onto it after a long period of abusing other opioids, attracted by its strength. More dangerously, fentanyl is sometimes mixed with other drugs including heroin and cocaine to increase their strength and effects along with their dangers. A Schedule II prescription drug, fentanyl can be toxic in very small amounts. When abused, users often ingest an entire dose of fentanyl at once, creating a tremendous risk of overdose.

Fentanyl abuse: Signs and symptoms

Fentanyl abuse can have physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms including severe mood symptoms and in extreme cases can even lead to unconsciousness, coma, or even death. Following are some of the common signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse.

  • Lack of energy
  • Itching and scratching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression
  • Sweating and shaking

Fentanyl abuse: Red flags

Addiction is addiction, regardless of whether the drug came with a prescription or was purchased illegally. Fentanyl’s high strength makes addiction particularly dangerous.

With the drugs increasing prevalence and the dangers associated with its use, earlier spotting of the physical, behavioral, and mental signs of drug abuse can prove to be effective in addressing fentanyl abuse. Following are some of the common red flags of fentanyl abuse.

  • Pharmaceutical packaging in the trash
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Loss of motivation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Swollen arms and legs
  • Slurred speech and clumsy movements

Inside the body

Like other opioid drugs, fentanyl changes the body’s perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors, found in areas of the brain controlling pain and emotions. As opioids bind to these receptors, the body produces more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a major role in the body’s reward system. This increase of dopamine brings feelings of euphoria and calm, the “high” that drives users to abuse opioids.

Also like other opioid drugs, fentanyl can essentially teach the brain it needs fentanyl to function properly thus developing dependency. When a person who has taken fentanyl for a period of time stops taking the drug, they may experience intense, unpleasant flu-like symptoms. These fentanyl abuse side effects, also known as withdrawal symptoms, can often be so bad a person may continue to abuse fentanyl just to avoid them.

Finally, it’s possible to build up a tolerance to fentanyl’s effects if the drug is taken for long periods of time. Many users find themselves using greater doses of fentanyl to achieve the same effects – given fentanyl’s toxicity, a larger dose can turn lethal very quickly.

Getting help

No matter the type of drug, detoxification treatment at a medical facility is always the safest choice while treating addiction-related disorders, especially when they are accompanied by co-occurring mental health illnesses. Owing to a drug’s addictive nature and severe withdrawal symptoms, an inpatient detox program provides 24-hour medical assistance and ongoing medical monitoring. In addition to detox, a therapeutic follow-up program is also recommended.

Fentanyl addiction treatment can help patients stop using the addictive drug and move past addiction into a happier life. A comprehensive fentanyl detox treatment at fentanyl detox centers combines medically-supervised detox followed by intense psychotherapies or counseling sessions.

Addiction to prescription drugs is not only psychological but also generate a powerful physical addiction to the drug. Keeping its dual effects in mind, Sovereign Health provides individualized, evidence based treatment that combines clinically-based treatment programs long with a variety of experiential therapies including yoga, meditation, and expressive arts therapy.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

A leading provider of substance abuse, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment for women, Sovereign Health specializes in treating trauma and abuse survivors.

Sovereign Health provides expert treatment for women patients addicted to fentanyl and other opioids at its state-of-the-art treatment facility in Chandler, Arizona. By using cutting-edge technologies, treatment tools and evidence-based clinical therapies, our goal is to provide each of our clients with the tools they need to overcome their addiction and prevent it from recurring. Sovereign Health of Arizona offers its women patients numerous treatment modalities including cognitive remediation therapy and experiential therapies. Offering the highest quality care for drug and alcohol addiction, all our women patients receive comprehensive and tailor-made drug addiction treatment in a safe, compassionate and trigger-free environment.

In addition to offering all our patients with tailor-made treatment plans as per their needs, Sovereign Health has streamlined the insurance process and provides many financial options including accepting most major health insurance plans. For more information on our evidence-based treatment programs for fentanyl patch abuse and fentanyl addiction, please call or chat online with our representatives at our 24/7 helpline number.

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