With so many stories on the news and the word of mouth on the street, it seems fentanyl is now part of our collective consciousness. But outside of all the social media posts and the rumors here we answer the question, “What is fentanyl?” We also offer some guidance on the potential benefit of using medication to help individuals find relief from fentanyl addiction.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid made as a pill or patch. It binds your body’s opioid receptors causing a range of effects like extreme happiness, nausea, confusion, drowsiness, tolerance, sedation, addiction, respiratory depression, unconsciousness, and death.
Due to its sedating nature, fentanyl can act as anesthesia to slow breathing and heart rate during medical procedures.
Understanding the Risks of Fentanyl
The chemical composition of fentanyl is similar to that of morphine. However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent. The drug’s potency means it is highly addictive and more dangerous than other commonly abused drugs like heroin. Illegal fentanyl comes as a powder or pill. It also comes in nasal sprays and eye droppers in a disguising effort.
Fentanyl affects the parts of your brain responsible for pain and emotions. After long-term use of the drug, there is diminished brain sensitivity. The sensitivity decrease makes it hard for your brain to respond to pleasurable stimuli apart from that brought by the drug.
Regular drug seeking comes with a risk of overdose. During a fentanyl overdose, the drug causes severe adverse effects and life-threatening symptoms. Your breathing can slow down or stop, leading to hypoxia. A decrease in the oxygen reaching the brain during hypoxia can cause permanent brain damage, a coma, or death.
Addressing a Fentanyl Overdose
The tell-tale signs of a fentanyl overdose include the skin turning gray, blue, or ashy, shaking while foaming in the mouth, and unresponsiveness to verbal cues. When you find a person experiencing this, the following steps can help you save their life:
- Call 911 immediately to get much-needed help from qualified professionals.
- If the victim is shaking and foaming in the mouth, hold them down and turn them to their side to prevent choking.
- If you have Naloxone (Narcan), administer it immediately and announce what you’re doing. By doing this, Good Samaritan Laws will protect you in case of legal action.
- Be mindful as you help the person in need. Avoid contact with needles and other paraphernalia that may be around you. Remember, the first step to helping someone is taking care of yourself.
The ultimate step to address a fentanyl overdose is seeking help to overcome the habit. If you or a loved one suffers from fentanyl addiction, our facility offers addiction treatment for people addicted to fentanyl.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Because of its potency and availability fentanyl has quickly become one of the most used substances in America. What makes that even more problematic is the fact that it is dangerous. A person’s tolerance increases quickly with fentanyl. This means more of the drug is necessary for the desired result.
This is a dangerous path that easily leads to overdose because often the individual is not fully aware of how much fentanyl they have taken. If they mix in other types of drugs the dangers increase.
Fentanyl addiction can be mitigated and even treated with medication. An outpatient detox can prescribe various medication-assisted treatments for fentanyl offering hope and respite for people who have felt trapped by the substance.
Volpicelli Center Outpatient Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know struggles with fentanyl addiction, and you want to understand more about the power of medication assisted treatment in the Philadelphia area, call us today. We are ready to answer your questions and offer the right direction for your next step.