Finding a fentanyl treatment facility is crucial if you've become addicted to the drug. Fentanyl is both highly addictive and potentially deadly. And although it's not as well-known as other abused prescription pain relievers like Oxycontin and Vicodin, its potential for abuse is higher.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid prescription pain reliever first developed in the 1950s in Belgium. It is, according to webmd.com, "available as a skin patch, lozenge, pills, shots, a film that dissolves in your mouth, or by IV (intravenous)." Common brand names are Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, and Abstral. It is a schedule II narcotic.
Fentanyl works by binding to the brain's opiate receptors. These receptors then increase the dopamine--the neurotransmitter that controls your reward and pleasure--levels producing euphoria. Because it is able to quickly dissolve in oils and fats, fentanyl is able to reach the central nervous system very quickly. It is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. However, the high is usually short-lived, which causes the user to seek more of the drug creating an endless cycle of abuse.
Street names for Fentanyl include Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.
How it's Abused
Probably the most common form of prescription fentanyl is the time-released patch Duragesic. It's generally prescribed for pain in cancer patients or for those with chronic pain. Addicts often cut up the patch and eat the fentanyl gel. Others will smoke small pieces of the gel. Some even heat the patch with a hair dryer to speed up the release for a quicker, more potent high.
Actiq is the brand name for prescription fentanyl used to treat cancer pain. It is frequently abused. It is a plastic lozenge that looks like a lollipop. Fentora is a fast-dissolving tablet placed between the teeth and gum. The recently FDA-approved tablet called Abstral is another type of fentanyl.
Why it's so Dangerous
The director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Center released a memorandum about the dangers of fentanyl.
- "Fentanyl-related overdoses can result in sudden death through respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, severe respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse or severe anaphylactic [whole-body allergy] reaction."
- Heroin and cocaine are often cut with fentanyl and sold on the street. The user may not be told that the powerful fentanyl is mixed leaving a higher potential for overdose or death.
- The overdose effects occur quickly. And because "routine toxicology screens for opiates will not detect fentanyl," ER staff may not be aware that the patient has ingested the drug. "Critical treatment minutes can be lost."
If you or someone you love needs treatment for fentanyl treatment, most medical professionals recommend a combination of counseling, therapy, and possibly prescription drug treatment.
For the worst case scenario, a fentanyl overdose should be treated as follows according to the Substance Abuse Treatment Center:
"Treat rapidly with a naloxone injection, 0.4-2 mg IV, SC or IM every 2 to 3 minutes which should rapidly reverse symptoms related to a narcotic overdose. Naloxone can also precipitate immediate narcotic withdrawal symptoms as overdose symptoms are reversed."
If you've gotten to the point where you need to detox from fentanyl, treatment centers typically start patients on buprenorphine (suboxone), a drug designed to lessen the withdrawal symptoms while curbing the drug cravings.
Buprenorphine works by blocking the effects of fentanyl in the body. It is longer acting and doesn't produce the same euphoric feelings (when taken as directed) as fentanyl. Buprenorphine is also used as a long-term opiate replacement therapy where patients are given a 30-day take home dose at time.
Another treatment method, still somewhat controversial, is rapid detox. Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) and sometimes called the Waismann Method, rids the body of fentanyl while the patient is anaesthetized. In the procedure, patients are under an anesthetic for 2 to 6 hours while their body is drug-induced to withdrawal. During this time, the worst of these withdrawal symptoms pass without the patient having to experience them.
In addition to ridding your body of fentanyl and substituting it with a maintenance drug like buprenorphine, therapy and counseling should be part of fentanyl treatment.
One method of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, patients are taught how to change patterns of unproductive thought. It gives you tools to deal with cravings, to be aware of influencing negative feelings, and to identify and avoid "triggers" to your drug abuse.
Another fentanyl treatment method is group therapy like that of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which uses a disease-model for therapy with its 12-step program. In group therapy, patients discuss addiction issues and are able to learn from one another in a supportive setting.
If you or someone you love needs fentanyl treatment, seek help immediately. Fentanyl is a powerful and addictive opiate that is easy to abuse. Search Recoverycorps.org's database for a treatment center near you. For help selecting a treatment center, click here.