Fentanyl stands as a potent opioid, categorized as a schedule II controlled substance. This classification underscores its recognized applications within the realm of medicine, while concurrently highlighting the substantial potential for addiction it bears. This opioid’s notable potency and controlled status emphasize its danger to the public.
Due to its strength, fentanyl is often laced with other substances to increase their effects. In fact, Fentanyl is the top cause of opioid overdose. Fentanyl is commonly used on patients that already have an opioid tolerance and need a stronger substance to feel the effects, which is why people will add fentanyl to the substances they’re selling on the street.
Because of how powerful Fentanyl is, and because its effects wear off in under an hour and a half, users will grow tolerant to it extremely fast. It also activates opioid receptors which induce strong feelings of euphoria, and even rewires how the brain interprets pain. This makes it high-risk for addiction.
In a lot of cases, most people are unaware they are taking fentanyl, as it can be used to enhance the effects of other drugs such as heroin. As a result, there have been overdoses from fentanyl than any other opioid out there.
Similar to other opioids, withdrawal occurs when the brain cannot adapt to everyday life without the chemical influence introduced by fentanyl. The physical manifestations of fentanyl withdrawal encompass a range of discomforts, including but not limited to bodily aches, muscle soreness, queasiness, diarrhea, restlessness, anxiety, and intense cravings for additional fentanyl or alternative drugs.
On a psychological level, the brain grapples with experiencing natural pleasure, as it has been reconditioned to only accept artificial surges of dopamine as genuine pleasure signals. Those undergoing fentanyl withdrawal are susceptible to developing feelings of depression, anxiety, or irritability as a consequence, which can endure for weeks without appropriate intervention.
Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT) is a practical approach to detoxification, similar to strategies employed for other opioid dependencies. Methadone, a considerably milder opioid, can be prescribed to mitigate the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal. However, a challenge lies in the potency of fentanyl, which can lead to instances where patients might develop dependence on these less potent opioids. The objective of ORT is to gradually decrease the influx of opioid chemicals to the brain until it can readjust to functioning independently.
Comparable to other opioids, behavioral therapy proves remarkably effective in addressing fentanyl addictions. As opioids reconfigure the brain’s reward system, behavioral therapy counteracts these patterns by identifying fresh methods to activate the reward receptors without resorting to substance misuse.