Something that’s powerful is typically thought to be something that’s also good. People think high-octane gas is a little better than standard gas. A baseball pitcher who can throw a ball at 90 mph is often held in higher esteem than someone who can only throw a 70 mph ball. And people who make $70k per year are often considered more successful than those who only make $25k per year. In this country, power is usually considered a very good thing. But not everything that’s powerful is good.
Consider fentanyl. This prescription medication is 50-100 times more powerful than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which makes it one of the most potent painkillers out there. But all of that power can come with some nasty side effects, and many of those consequences have to do with addiction.
Fentanyl and the Brain
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that’s designed to augment the brain’s natural pleasure chemicals. When users take a hit of this drug, all of the natural processes the brain uses in order to respond to something interesting or pleasant go into overdrive. That’s a great attribute for a person in pain, as that boosted signal could make signals of discomfort a little easier to ignore. But it can be really dangerous if people boost these signals for nothing more than recreational purposes.
A fentanyl boost, repeated again and again, can tweak vital circuitry in the brain, making the brain less likely to produce its own pleasurable signals. In time, the brain might only feel pleasure when fentanyl is present.
This addictive process is possible in people who take various painkilling drugs, including:
But it’s a speedy process to addiction with fentanyl, simply because the drug is so strong. Each hit does so much damage that an addiction can come on very quickly.
Fentanyl comes in many different formats, including pill forms and liquid forms. Abusers might take pills by mouth, or they might crush the pills and snort or inject the powder.
Some users get even more creative with the fentanyl they have. For example, patches made of fentanyl are designed to stick to the skin, delivering a dose of medication at regular intervals. Some users crack open these packets, say researchers writing for the Journal of Forensic Sciences, and they ingest the ingredients found inside.
Whether users take pills or packets, and whether they chew the ingredients or swallow or snort them, all of these users typically need to take in more and more fentanyl with each passing day. That’s because their bodies become accustomed to fentanyl, and the responses users feel with each dose tends to decline with time. Soon, people might need to take in massive doses of fentanyl just to feel normal.
Fentanyl Abuse Recovery
The Drug Enforcement Administration suggests that some 20,034 people abused fentanyl in 2011 alone. If you’re abusing this drug, or you love someone with an abuse problem, you’re certainly not alone. There are many families that are going through the very same situation.
That means there are also a number of medical professionals who are devoted to making life better. The medical community has researched these kinds of addictions extensively, and professionals have developed a number of innovative therapies that could make sobriety easier to attain.
Medical treatments can help to take the pain and discomfort out of detoxification, so you can get sober without feeling really sick. Therapists and counselors can use a combination of medications and therapy to help you to overcome an addiction, along with the underlying medical conditions that might make an addiction worse. And support group leaders can help you to connect with others in recovery, so you’ll be able to find a role model for health in your own life.
Rehab could be a wonderful experience for you, and you can emerge from the process with knowledge you never knew you were missing. We’d like to help you to get started. Just call the number at the top of the page, and our admissions coordinators can tell you more.
Further Reading About Fentanyl Addiction Risks
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.