Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that has become increasingly popular in the illicit drug market. Unfortunately, there are many myths about the drug circulating among those who use and abuse it, a lot of which are perpetuated on mainstream and social media at the height of this opioid overdose crisis. It’s important to understand what this substance is, dispel any false information, and be aware of the risks associated with using it so you can protect yourself or your loved one from its dangers.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is used in medical settings as an analgesic for severe pain and can be prescribed by doctors in the form of lozenges, tablets, patches, or injections. It is most commonly administered to individuals suffering from intense pain in emergency medicine settings or from chronic life-threatening conditions.
Common Forms of Fentanyl
The most common forms of fentanyl are transdermal patches which are applied directly to the skin; sublingual tablets which dissolve under the tongue; buccal films which stick to the inside of your cheek; lollipops or lozenges that dissolve in your mouth; nasal sprays that are inhaled through your nose and injectable solutions are given intravenously or intramuscularly by healthcare professionals. Other less common forms include suppositories inserted into rectums or vaginas, and oral solutions taken orally like cough syrup.
How Fentanyl Is Used
Medically supervised users typically receive prescriptions from doctors who monitor their usage closely while providing guidance on proper dosage levels based on individual needs. Dosage is carefully monitored to ensure that the patient does not become addicted or dependent on the drug and that they are receiving an appropriate amount of relief for their condition.
Fentanyl has also become increasingly popular on the street due to its potency and low cost. Common forms of illicit fentanyl include powder, pills, blotter paper (a sheet of paper soaked with liquid containing fentanyl), and spray-on solutions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other law enforcement officers have reported an increase in illicit fentanyl seizures as well as accidental fentanyl overdose deaths, particularly among young adults.
Myths about Fentanyl
Myth 1: Fentanyl is Only Used by Drug Addicts
This myth is false. Fentanyl can be prescribed legally by a doctor to treat severe pain, and it is often used in hospitals for surgery or other medical procedures. It can also be found on the streets illegally as an opioid drug of abuse. People who misuse fentanyl may not necessarily have a history of substance use disorder or addiction, but they are still at risk for developing one due to the highly addictive nature of this powerful drug.
Myth 2: All Forms of Fentanyl are Highly Addictive
This myth is also false. While all forms of fentanyl can be dangerous if misused, some forms are more potent than others and therefore more likely to lead to addiction if abused over time. For example, transdermal patches containing fentanyl (such as Duragesic) are designed to slowly release small amounts of the drug into the bloodstream over several days, making them less likely to cause dependence than other forms such as powder or pills that deliver larger doses in a shorter period of time
Myth 3: Fentanyl absorbed through the skin can be fatal
The fentanyl panic has roused media reports of emergency responders or first responders being at increased overdose risk from secondhand fentanyl exposure when responding to drug overdoses. While opioid toxicity is very high, the likelihood of accidental fentanyl overdose from being around the drug is extremely low. In fact, emergency medicine experts report that the risk of overdosing as a result of accidentally touching fentanyl is extremely low. Similarly, it would take several hours of inhaling the drug in the same room for it to have an effect on someone.
Myth 4: Fentanyl analog exposure is more dangerous
Fentanyl analogs such as carfentanyl are more potent forms of the drug, however, accidental exposure risk remains the same.
Risks Associated with Using Fentanyl
It has become increasingly popular among drug users due to its potency and availability on the street. Unfortunately, this popularity has led to an increase in fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths. Knowing the risks associated with using fentanyl can help people make informed decisions about their health and safety.
Physical Health Risks of Using Fentanyl
Fentanyl use carries serious physical health risks, including slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, constipation, confusion, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. In some cases, it can even lead to death from a fentanyl overdose or respiratory failure if not treated quickly enough by medical professionals.
Mental Health Risks of Using Fentanyl
Long-term use of fentanyl can also have negative mental health effects such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia. These symptoms may be exacerbated if the user is already struggling with a mental illness prior to taking the drug or if they are mixing it with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines which could further impair judgment or decision-making abilities when under the influence of fentanyl.
Risk of Fentanyl Addiction
As with any opioid medication, there is always a risk for addiction when using them regularly over time; however, this risk increases significantly when taking higher doses than prescribed or engaging in recreational use without medical supervision. These activities put individuals at greater risk for developing an addiction that could be difficult to overcome without professional help from qualified healthcare providers who specialize in treating substance abuse disorders. Specialized treatment centers across the country are dedicated solely to helping individuals recover from their addictions safely and effectively while providing support throughout each step along their journey back toward sobriety.
Treatment Options for People Struggling with a Fentanyl Addiction
Detoxification is the first step in treating an addiction to fentanyl. It involves removing all traces of the drug from the body and managing any withdrawal symptoms that may occur. Detox programs typically involve medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms and counseling sessions with a therapist or addiction specialist. During detox, patients are monitored closely by medical professionals who can provide additional support if needed.
Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs
Inpatient rehabilitation programs offer comprehensive care and treatment for people struggling with an addiction to fentanyl. These programs usually involve 24-hour supervision in a residential setting where patients receive individualized care from doctors, nurses, counselors, and other healthcare professionals. Patients typically stay at the facility for several weeks or months while they undergo intensive therapy and learn how to cope with their addiction without using drugs or alcohol.
Outpatient treatment programs are designed to provide ongoing support after completing an inpatient program or detoxification process. These programs usually involve weekly visits with counselors who specialize in substance abuse issues as well as group meetings where individuals can share their experiences and get advice from others who have been through similar situations. Outpatient treatment also includes education about relapse prevention strategies such as stress management techniques, healthy lifestyle habits, coping skills development, and more.
Sober living homes provide individuals who are in early recovery with a safe and structured environment to learn crucial life skills and build a peer support community in order to transition back into a sober and independent lifestyle. Services typically include access to outpatient treatment, support groups, and peer mentorship, with a huge emphasis on life skills to prevent relapse and foster lasting recovery from substance abuse. Sober living programs also provide accountability for an individual to actively participate and grow in their recovery, such as attending 12-step meetings, working with a 12-step sponsor, and completing respective step work, as well as monitoring individuals with drug tests.
Know The Facts
It is essential to understand the truth about fentanyl and dispel any myths that may be circulating in mainstream media outlets. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug with serious risks associated with its use, including overdose and death. It is essential for those struggling with an addiction to this drug to seek help from qualified professionals who can provide evidence-based treatment options. Fentanyl myths should not prevent individuals from seeking help; instead, they should be aware of the potential dangers associated with using this substance and take steps toward recovery as soon as possible.
New Life House provides a safe, and one of the best structured sober living environments in Southern California for young adults struggling with substance abuse, helping them build healthier lives free from substance abuse. New Life House has been active in the recovery community for over 35 years. Our long-standing community provides peer accountability, structure, guidance, and supervision for those earnestly seeking a new way of life. Call us today to learn more about treatment options for fentanyl addiction.
Last Updated on February 13, 2023