Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, cause more deaths by overdose than any other drug in the U.S. The nation is in an opioid crisis, and fentanyl abuse is a big part of that.
If you or a loved one are addicted to fentanyl, it’s clear that you need to get help immediately to avoid an early death. But do you need medical attention? Can’t you just detox from fentanyl at home?
In this article, we’ll see why it isn’t so easy to quit fentanyl addiction without professional help by your side. We’ll also look at fentanyl withdrawal and what can be expected during the process.
Opioids are chemical compounds that resemble opium in their addictive qualities. According to drugabuse.gov, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but much more potent. In some cases, fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Similar to morphine, fentanyl most often assists patients with severe pain, especially after medical procedures.
Doctors may also utilize fentanyl to treat patients with chronic pain who are tolerant to other opioids. As a prescription, fentanyl is known by brand names such as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. When a patient correctly uses drugs like this, the drugs can help one get through bouts of pain.
However, just like morphine, dealers illegally distribute fentanyl is, and it is easy to misuse. Therefore, one can say fentanyl abuse occurs as a result of both legal and illegal drug markets. Anytime one uses a drug the wrong way, it is abuse, even if one obtains the drug legally.
In 2017, more than 58 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3 percent in 2010. Illegal use of fentanyl is on the rise.
According to the above site, fentanyl works “by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions.”
After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides it.
Since it is so easy to get a high from fentanyl, many drug dealers will mix it with smaller amounts of other drugs. It may even be possible for a person with drug addiction to have a fentanyl addiction without even knowing. Mixing drugs like this may be cheaper for the drug pusher, but it is extremely dangerous for the user. It dramatically increases the risk of death through a drug overdose.
To understand fentanyl detox, we need to look at the nature of both detox and withdrawal. Some detoxification (detox) procedures will be vital to their recovery whenever someone has an addiction to any chemical substance.
Alcohol or drugs leave behind dangerous (and usually toxic) chemicals in the body. The more people use those substances, the more toxins build up in their bodies.
Detoxification or detox removes all of the toxins built up in the body due to the addiction. Once those toxins are gone, a person will not only be healthier; they will be in a better position to overcome their addiction. There are many types of possible detox procedures. The best detox option depends on the patient’s history and overall health. Each person will require an individual detox and rehabilitation (rehab) plan to ensure a complete recovery.
People can expect to face withdrawal symptoms whenever they go through detox. Withdrawal occurs because the body is trying to revert to a normal state. Those toxins had become an important part of the body’s normal functions.
Once the toxins are gone, the body needs to recover to begin functioning at a normal level again.
Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful. In some cases, they can be deadly. Anyone who wants to go through withdrawal effectively must do so with professional help nearby to oversee the process.
Unfortunately, most people fail to make it past the withdrawal symptoms when they try to detox independently.
Help from a qualified rehab facility is the best way to ensure a successful detox and withdrawal. That’s because they have the personnel and the resources necessary to help patients get through the process as smoothly as possible.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be brutal, and there’s no getting around it. Early symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia , and a runny nose.
Later symptoms of withdrawal include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, nausea, and vomiting.
While fentanyl withdrawal symptoms by themselves are certainly not always fatal, the fact is that it is possible to die from opiate withdrawal.
“Persistent vomiting and diarrhea may result, if untreated, in dehydration, hypernatraemia (elevated blood sodium level) and resultant heart failure.”
Certain drugs with the approval of the FDA can help patients during fentanyl detox with withdrawal symptoms.
These include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. According to drugabuse.gov, buprenorphine and methadone bind to the same opioid receptors in the brain as fentanyl, thus reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors and prevents fentanyl from having a negative effect.
In addition to medicines, behavioral therapies for addiction can help people modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. Resources like these can make all the difference for someone trying to detox from fentanyl.
The issue is that fentanyl can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. To stop your fentanyl addiction without medical help could potentially affect other parts of the body. With the proper medication (and professional help), the withdrawal symptoms can be made less painful with additional supervision to ensure no additional issues arise.
As mentioned, the type of detox that a person must go through depends on many factors. In some cases, a person can choose to detox at home. The health.gov.au website notes that “the option to detoxify at home might be especially appealing to psycho-stimulant users who are often reluctant to access mainstream treatment services.” But even at home, the person needs to have proper supervision. Additionally, the individual will need examination by a professional to ensure that the detox process is going smoothly.
The monitoring process is also vital during outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment is when the person with addiction lives at home but visits the rehab or detox facility each day. Medical professionals monitor the detox process and ensure that it’s working properly. Then the addict can go back home until the next check-up, usually the next day or within a few days.
However, not every person can detox at home. Inpatient treatment refers to when a patient lives at the same facility where they are receiving treatment. Many rehab facilities offer this option. There are also “community residential settings” set up to help people go through detox. These settings are an important option for patients with no extra medical complications or psychiatric problems that could complicate the detox process. If there are such complications, the detox process should occur in a hospital or other such facility. This ensures that the patient will have everything they need to get through the process.
The above website provides a general guide for what factors will require a detox process that takes place in a hospital, including:
There is something vital to understand about the detox procedure. By itself, detox isn’t enough. According to a post on the ldi.upenn.edu website, “medical detoxification alone does little to change long-term drug use, and in fact, it increases patients’ risk of mortality from overdose if they do not transition to substance abuse treatment after discharge.”
The problem is that many people who go through detox do not move on to rehab procedures afterward.
The website points to a 2012 study of more than 200,000 people, which found that fewer than 11% of detoxification admissions were followed by admission to rehab treatment immediately (within 14 days).
This is unfortunate because rehab is where the true healing for addiction occurs. Rehab is where people learn how to live without giving in to their addictions.
Think of a computer that is newly free of malware and virus damage. If the computer doesn’t get new software to fight off future attacks, then the viruses and malware will just come back, and the computer will need to be cleaned all over again. It’s not enough to cleanse the body of addictive substances if you don’t also change a person’s mind.
A person must learn what they need to do to live a sober lifestyle, just as a person with diabetes needs to be taught how to keep their sickness under control, so a person with addiction must learn what to do to keep their sickness under control.
That’s a big change for many people. Change is not easy when you consider how many other challenges each person may be facing.
Due to this, each person’s rehab treatment needs to fit their own needs and whatever physical or psychological issues they may be facing.
Fentanyl addiction is rising, and we must face it head-on. It may begin with your victory if you have a fentanyl addiction.
Understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to detox from fentanyl, you’ve seen how many options there are for you to get the help you need.
However, you can’t take advantage of these options if you don’t reach out for help.
Reach out to us today if you want to get help for the detox process. You can do so by calling us at (888) 906-0952
 Health.gov Fentanyl Information
 DrugAbuse.gov Facts
 Medline Plus: Fentanyl Information
 Penn Edu: Why Detox Isn’t Enough
 NDARC: Yes, People Can Die From Opioid Withdrawal
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