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Understanding Fentanyl Addiction and Withdrawal

While some of the most common drugs and substances that people abuse have been around for a long time, there are also certain newer examples that have only gained prominence in recent years or decades. One especially dangerous and notable example is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s been around since the 1950s, but has more recently exploded as a drug of abuse that’s led to tens of thousands of deaths in recent years. 

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we provide caring, compassionate drug addiction treatment programs for patients around Boise, plus surrounding states like Oregon and Washington. We’re certainly no strangers to the rising fentanyl epidemic across the country, and fentanyl addiction is one of many types we assist patients with in several ways. Here are some basics on what fentanyl is, why it’s so addictive and harmful to many people, and some basics on how to spot signs of its use or withdrawal symptoms in someone close to you. 

Basics on Fentanyl

As we mentioned above, fentanyl is a form of synthetic opioid that was originally manufactured to be an alternative to morphine as an anesthesia option. It’s a powerful and fast-acting substance, so it was seen as a viable option to treat severe pain in cases of major surgery or in certain cancer treatments (as well as being used recreationally). 

Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to psychological or physical dependence. It’s also much more powerful than any other opioid drug – even morphine or heroin – so the risk of overdose is significantly higher when using this substance compared to others. 

Signs of Fentanyl Use and Withdrawal Symptoms 

If you’re worried about a loved one who may be abusing fentanyl, there are some tell-tale signs of use and even withdrawal symptoms you can look out for. Signs of use include:

  • Drowsiness or unconsciousness: Fentanyl is a strong sedative, so you may notice that the person displaying signs of its use will be more drowsy or knocked out than usual. 
  • Slowed breathing: With a powerful opioid like fentanyl, the impact on respiration can be even more severe; you may notice their breathing become shallow or slow down altogether. 
  • Disorientation or confusion: Fentanyl can have a disorienting effect on its users, and they may not be able to think clearly or respond to you in the way they normally do. 

Withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl can take place shortly after use, and include: feeling restless or agitated, nausea and vomiting, sweating, high blood pressure or heart rate, tremors, and abdominal cramping. 

Withdrawal Timeline

Because fentanyl is so highly concentrated and powerful, the withdrawal timeline will generally begin within 12 hours of last use and reach its peak within 48-72 hours. Symptoms can persist for up to a week or more in some cases, before slowly tapering off over the course of several weeks. 

It’s important to note that the withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl can be very severe and potentially dangerous, so if you think someone close to you is withdrawing from this substance, it’s important to seek help immediately. 

Possible Hallucinations

One especially severe result of fentanyl withdrawal for some people is the onset of hallucinations. These can take several forms, from hearing or seeing things that aren’t there to feeling like someone is touching them when no one is present. It’s important to be aware of this symptom in order to provide support and help the person seeking assistance through detoxification during fentanyl withdrawal. 

Cold Turkey is Risky

Once again, due to fentanyl’s extreme concentration, quitting “cold turkey” may be very dangerous and potentially even fatal. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a qualified recovery center like Moonlight Mountain Recovery, where our staff of addiction specialists are here to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for patients struggling with substance abuse issues. 

Our specialized monitoring programs can help keep your loved one safe during the course of the withdrawal period, and our caring support staff will be there to provide assistance every step of the way. 

Fentanyl addiction is a serious issue that requires professional help to address. If you or someone close to you is struggling with fentanyl abuse, don’t hesitate – reach out for assistance today, and start your journey towards recovery and sobriety. Our team at Moonlight Mountain Recovery is here to help with these and other addiction recovery needs around Boise, Oregon and Washington. 

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