Deep within the human brain, tiny cells have open receptors, just waiting for a little molecule of an opioid to float past. When that molecule arrives, it locks into that opening in the brain. It triggers the release of intoxicating chemicals that can infuse a person with the feeling of warmth, happiness, and comfort. Any pain sensation may be a distant memory, with only relaxation filling the void.
Every opioid works in this manner, but the prescription medication fentanyl is particularly dangerous. This medication is potent, fast-acting, and readily available, making it easy to develop a fentanyl addiction. Michael’s House is a fentanyl rehab center in Palm Springs offering substance abuse treatment programs that help people struggling with addiction to opioids. Call 760.548.4032 to learn more about the fentanyl addiction treatment program in Palm Springs.
Common Medical Uses of Fentanyl
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, making it one of the most potent opioid medications in the marketplace today. Many people have a valid need for drugs that are this powerful. For example, people with advanced cancer cases often have pain that runs so deep and is so persistent that other forms of pain control leave them feeling uncomfortable or downright miserable. Fentanyl can allow for quick treatment of breakthrough pain episodes like this, providing relief at the end of life. Fentanyl is also used in surgical practices, allowing medical professionals to numb the pain sensation so they can make lifesaving cuts in people with severe medical conditions.
Since the drug has so many reasonable uses, it’s not surprising that it’s also sold in many formats, including:
- Liquid for injections
- Lozenges or suckers
- Fizzing tablets
Many fentanyl prescriptions likely make life tolerable for people with severe pain. Unfortunately, at least some of these prescriptions are diverted for the illicit drug trade, feeding into dangerous addictions.
How Fentanyl Abuse Begins
Some people abusing fentanyl do so by simply injecting the liquid form of the drug. These users might also take pills filled with fentanyl, following a somewhat conventional dosing format, or they might suck on lozenges infused with the drug. All of these steps can be dangerous, of course, but some people who take in fentanyl do so by attempting to override the safety features contained in the drugs. People who take these steps may be placing themselves in even greater danger.
Fentanyl patches are infused with the medication, and they’re designed to deliver a low dose of relief for an extended period. A person in intense pain might slap a patch on their shoulder and leave it there for up to three days, and that person might only get a few milligrams of the drug during each day that passes. Some fentanyl addicts override this slow release by cutting the patches apart and applying the potent part of the patch to the inside of their gums. Those who don’t want stickers lining their mouths might pull the patches apart and extract the gel filling that each patch contains. These users can then place the gel inside needles and plunge those needles into their veins. Again, they’re getting the full impact of the drug in mere minutes rather than waiting for days to pass.
Dangers of Fentanyl Abuse
People who use this drug just once may have the kind of transformative experience that immediately puts them on the road to addiction. The power of fentanyl can also lead to tolerance. The cells of the brain become accustomed to the constant presence of the drug, and they may begin to respond with indifference when the intoxicating molecules are present. In time, people may need to take larger and larger doses of this drug to feel the response that once came so quickly with just a tiny bit of fentanyl.
Unfortunately, fentanyl can also cause very slow breathing rates and seizures when taken at high doses. People struggling with addiction may lose their lives just trying to get high, and they may never know that their doses would be considered life-threatening by experts.
How Fentanyl Addiction Begins
Fentanyl might seem popular because it’s familiar, but some people specifically seek out fentanyl as their drug of choice. The way the drug is structured and how it interacts in the human body can bring about some benefits that people might struggle to find in any other way.
People who abuse opiates like OxyContin might feel somewhat altered for hours, unable to function normally or interact appropriately—but those taking fentanyl might seem normal mere hours after taking the drug. The substance wears off quickly, leaving no residue behind, making it an attractive choice for people who want to feel something transformative without losing a day or two of their lives.
Symptoms of Addiction
Since fentanyl wears off so quickly, users might not appear intoxicated for large swaths of time. As the addiction progresses, people struggling with fentanyl addiction might seem normal or a little tired during the day. Sudden shifts of energy might cause alarm, however, and it’s not uncommon for addicts to display these behaviors regularly. They might seem hostile and keyed up in one moment and then quiet and drowsy moments after having a little alone time. These people might also have very tiny pupils, no matter how dark the room might be, and they might slur their words as they talk.
People with fentanyl addictions might also hoard paraphernalia related to the drug, including:
- Needles, both clean and dirty
- Burned tinfoil or silverware, typically housed next to lighters or matches
- Empty fentanyl pill bottles
- Discarded and damaged fentanyl patches
People who abuse fentanyl lozenges might also have a sucker in their mouths throughout the day, and they may seem uncomfortable with the idea of removing the sucker to eat, drink, or talk. Extreme agitation in the face of a reasonable request like this is a severe sign of abuse.
When to Seek Professional Help
The following behaviors indicate someone is struggling with addiction and may need professional help to overcome it:
- The person requires more of the drug to get the same desired effects.
- They have taken the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- The person can no longer control how much or how often they use fentanyl.
- A lot of their time is spent trying to find and use fentanyl.
- They use fentanyl in secret or hide how much they take in.
- They choose using fentanyl over spending time with friends or family.
- They know fentanyl harms their life, but they don’t or can’t stop using it.
People struggling with fentanyl addiction can be challenging to approach, as they might seem to have the issue well in hand.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment at Michael’s House
The staff at Michael’s House, a fentanyl rehab center in Palm Springs, has years of experience treating complicated addictions like this. Call 760.548.4032 to connect with one of the trained admissions coordinators at Michael’s House and learn more about the fentanyl addiction treatment program in Palm Springs.