Fentanyl Addiction Recovery

People from all different walks of life develop addictions. Even when you've never taken an illegal drug in your entire life, if you have a health condition that requires prescription-strength pain relief, you could become an addict. If your doctor has prescribed the drug fentanyl to manage your physical pain, review the following guide to become more familiar with the warning signs of addiction to this highly effective pain reliever.

Fentanyl in a Nutshell

Fentanyl is a very strong synthetic opiate, typically prescribed for patients with cancer and other types of chronic pain that cannot be managed with OTC medications. This powerful drug also helps manage short bouts of pain, known as breakthrough pain, in patients who are already taking other long-lasting pain medications. This schedule II drug is reported to be up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Effects of Fentanyl

When a drug like fentanyl binds to the opiate receptors in your brain that control pain and emotions, dopamine is released, resulting in fast pain relief and an overall sense of well being or euphoria. If you take a bit too much fentanyl at one time, you may experience symptoms like nausea, extreme fatigue and cold sweats.

When taking fentanyl regularly, your body develops a tolerance to the drug which means you need to take larger doses to feel the same level of pain relief you felt before. It is extremely dangerous to take a large dose of fentanyl if you have not already built up a tolerance to it. Overdosing on this drug can cause life-threatening consequences, such as

  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Respiratory arrest (not breathing)
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Long-term use of this medication, whether prescribed by a doctor or not, often causes fentanyl dependence. Since heavy use of the drug interferes with your brain's ability to fight pain on its own, after awhile, the only way to keep pain at bay is by releasing more dopamine in your brain.

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

While some patients become dependent on fentanyl quickly after experiencing its effects for the first time, others try to prevent or delay the addiction process by staggering their use of the drug. Either way, the end result is often the same: the user has developed a fentanyl addiction.

Like other opiates, a fentanyl addiction includes both behavioral and physical signs. Behaviorally, an addiction to this medication can drive you to make poor decisions you wouldn't ordinarily make. Your world begins to revolve around the drug, and when you don't have it, you'll likely do whatever is necessary to acquire it.

Physical signs of fentanyl addiction vary from one person to the next, but they are typically similar to the symptoms of other opiate addictions. Look for physical signs such as

  • Labored breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Hives or itchy skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia

Keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction. You may experience any, none or all of these signs of addiction.

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery

Many fentanyl addicts require a supervised medical detox program to safely withdraw from the drug. This can be achieved in a hospital setting or a rehab facility. No matter how you choose to do it, once you've completed the physical detoxification stage of addiction recovery, it's time to begin examining your psychological dependency on the drug.

There are many facets to a successful opiate addiction recovery program. One-on-one counseling, recovery groups and alternative pain management techniques can all be utilized to form the base of your recovery program. Talk to your addiction counselor or doctor about additional treatment options that may complement your individualized recovery program, such as massage therapy and mindfulness meditation. Contact a drug rehab facility to find more helpful information and resources.