Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

man with fentanyl addiction talking to therapist

The Golden State has seen a new kind of rush, but this one is far from the yellow promise of dreams fulfilled and riches untold. It’s the alarming rise of fentanyl addiction. This potent opioid has infiltrated communities across California, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

California, known for its innovative approaches and robust healthcare system, is at the forefront of providing effective treatment for fentanyl addiction. In 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscated more than 79.5 million fake pills containing fentanyl. Additionally, nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized. This potent synthetic opioid has led to a significant number of overdose fatalities and remains a serious threat to individuals across the United States. The impact of fentanyl addiction has had long-lasting effects on families and communities, as fentanyl-related overdoses have resulted in the loss of numerous lives.

Located in Marin County, California, Golden Gate Recovery’s fentanyl addiction treatment facility is dedicated to breaking the cycle of addiction and changing the narrative surrounding receiving help. Our team is committed to offering continuous assistance to those struggling with opioid abuse. We are determined to play a role in reducing fentanyl overdose rates and bringing healing to affected individuals and their loved ones.

Understanding Fentanyl: Effects and Risks

Fentanyl is a heavyweight in the opioid family – up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. It’s like the Hulk of opioids but without the hero part. Think Bizarro.

Now, Fentanyl isn’t all bad. It’s sometimes prescribed for severe pain, like after surgery. But like any powerful substance, it has a dark side. Misuse can lead to addiction and even overdose, which can happen even on the first use due to its high potency.

The effects of Fentanyl are wide-ranging. On one hand, it can cause feelings of happiness or euphoria, drowsiness, and reduced pain sensitivity. But on the flip side, it can also lead to nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, itching, sweating, and confusion. More serious short-term effects can include low blood pressure, hallucinations, delirium, breathing difficulties, and loss of consciousness.

Long-term use of Fentanyl can lead to dependency, severe addiction, and an ever-increasing risk of overdosing. Adding to this unfolding nightmare is the fact that many people risk taking Fentanyl unknowingly by using other illicit drugs. Drug dealers sometimes mix Fentanyl with other substances, such as methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, to drive down their costs of production. This makes it extremely dangerous, as consuming Fentanyl unknowingly with other drugs can be lethal.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication that was developed in 1959 by the company Janssen Pharmaceutica to find safer and more effective alternatives to existing pain medications. Fentanyl was introduced into the US medical system as an intravenous drug but is now available in oral, nasal, injectable, and skin patch formulations.

Depending on the method of delivery, fentanyl can be very fast-acting, and ingesting a relatively small quantity can cause overdose. Fentanyl works by activating μ-opioid receptors.

How Does Fentanyl Affect the Brain and Body?

When you feel pain, it’s because your nerves are sending “ouch” signals to your brain. Fentanyl steps in and interrupts these signals, reducing the feelings of pain. It’s super effective and works directly on the central nervous system (CNS), but it is also very potent. It must be used carefully and under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Fentanyl comes in several forms, including patches for your skin, lozenges, and even a spray for inside your nose. It’s sold under various brand names like Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.

The Scope of Fentanyl Addiction in California

Most people have only heard about fentanyl online and through whispers and rumors from friends. If you are one of these people you might be wondering, “How big is this problem?”  Well, it’s pretty significant. Fully 1/5th of deaths of California’s teenagers and young adults (ages 15-24) are directly connected to fentanyl. Drug overdoses now kill two to three times as many people in the state as car accidents. Those are very many lost lives and broken families.

Shocked? But wait, there’s more!: California seized enough fentanyl in 2022 to potentially kill the entire population of North America, twice. That’s a lot of fentanyl, and it shows just how widespread this problem is.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Below are some key points to look out for when searching for signs of fentanyl addiction:

  • Euphoria: Fentanyl can cause intense feelings of happiness, but these are often followed by periods of depression or confusion.
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing: Fentanyl is a potent opioid that can slow down the body’s vital functions.
  • Weakness and trouble walking: Fentanyl can affect physical coordination, leading to weakness and difficulty walking or remaining upright.
  • Stiffness of muscles: Some people may experience muscle stiffness as a result of Fentanyl use.
  • Dizziness: Fentanyl can cause feelings of dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Fainting: In some cases, Fentanyl use can lead to fainting.
  • Shaking: Some people may be struck by shaking or tremors when using fentanyl.
  • Slurred speech: Fentanyl can affect speech, causing it to become slurred.
  • Drowsiness: Fentanyl can cause extreme drowsiness.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some people may feel nausea and vomit while using Fentanyl.

The Likelihood of Fentanyl Overdose

From May 2020 – April 2021, the estimated number of drug overdose deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000 over 12 months for the first time, with 64.0% of deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl [IMFs], which include both fentanyl and its illicit clones).

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl?

Fentanyl’s potency makes withdrawal risky and challenging for someone aiming to go it alone. Here are some of the withdrawal symptoms that individuals may experience:

  • Sweating: This is a common symptom as the body tries to eliminate the drug.
  • Chills, fever, or goosebumps: These are physical reactions as the body adjusts to the absence of the drug.
  • Exhaustion: Fatigue is common as the body works to heal itself.
  • Cognitive problems: People may experience difficulties with thinking clearly.
  • Anxiety: This can be a reaction to the stress of withdrawal.
  • Restlessness: This can be both a physical and mental symptom.
  • Insomnia: Sleep disturbances are common during withdrawal.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting: These are ways the body tries to eliminate the drug.
  • Pain in the bones and muscles: This can occur as the body adjusts to the absence of the drug.
  • Severe cravings to use: Cravings for a substance, in this case, opioids, is a psychological symptom and can be one of the most challenging aspects of withdrawal.
  • Uncontrolled leg movements
  • Cold flashes and goosebumps
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Irritability and yawning

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, and it’s always recommended to seek professional medical help when dealing with withdrawal.

Treatment Approaches for Fentanyl Addiction

fentanyl addiction treatment

There are many substance abuse treatments available for people suffering from an addiction to fentanyl. Treatment for fentanyl addiction can call for a different approach for everyone. For some, intensive care at a residential treatment center may be necessary, while others will benefit more from less restrictive options like outpatient treatment.

A typical treatment plan starts with an evaluation of the person’s level of physical dependence, medical concerns, mental health, and social factors that can influence their recovery. This evaluation should be conducted by professional staff at any level of care, who will make recommendations about the most appropriate treatment programs and medical interventions.

The second stage of treatment focuses on stabilizing the affected person and motivating them for recovery, which may include education and counseling. Often, medication for withdrawal and mental health treatment will be introduced during this stage. Once the affected person has sustained sobriety for at least a week, they will be more susceptible and accommodating with counseling and treatment.

Addiction counseling helps people understand their addiction and its root causes, identify their personal and environmental risk factors, build a social support network for recovery, and learn new skills that will help their recovery lifestyle progress forward. This stage of treatment can last from several weeks to months, depending on the level of care received.

An increasingly important part of Fentanyl treatment is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This, combined with addiction therapy services has been proven to provide the best outcomes for Opioid treatment.

California’s Response to the Fentanyl Crisis

California has invested over $1 billion since the beginning of the Newsom Administration to address the opioid crisis. In 2022, California seized 28,765 pounds of fentanyl, an estimated street value of more than $230 Million2. That’s a lot of drugs off the streets, and many lives potentially saved.

But it’s not just about seizing drugs. California is also making millions of dollars in grants available to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. They’re working with colleges and universities across California to raise awareness of the life-saving drug Naloxone. They’re also providing additional funding to increase the California National Guard’s capacity to combat the Fentanyl crisis and support federal, state, and local law enforcement counter-narcotic investigations and operations.

Healing and Recovery is Possible at Golden Gate Recovery

fentanyl addiction treatment center

Golden Gate Recovery in Marin County, CA is a treatment center that offers comprehensive addiction and mental health services for men. We have a strong belief in the power of a therapeutic and peer-led community in achieving long-term recovery, and our approach to treatment is based on a philosophy of long-term, 12-step-based, gender-specific care in a small and intimate recovery community. Our treatment program is designed to ensure a smooth transition out of a 30-day inpatient program into a structured living environment.

Our clinical team is skilled in treating complex clients using cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and life skills. We also believe in the importance of recreational therapy and physical wellness for their clients and their recovery journey.

Remember, it’s important to seek help immediately as fentanyl is a highly potent drug, and its misuse can lead to serious health consequences, including overdose and death. So, if you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction, contact us today to begin your fight against addiction and regain control of your life.

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