How Long Does It Take for a Person to Develop an Addiction to Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a prescription synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Common brand names of fentanyl include Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. It is available in tablets, patches, sprays, and lozenges. Originally it was produced to treat severe pain associated with cancer treatments or after surgery. Just like other opiates, it has a high potential for abuse and dependency, which can lead to drug addiction, even when used as prescribed. Not every person who takes fentanyl will develop a substance use disorder. Developing an addiction depends on several risk factors including genetics, family history, environment, and mental health. Knowing the signs someone is using fentanyl can help them get treatment sooner and improve their chances of long-term recovery.
Developing a drug addiction does not happen overnight. It results from a long process of repeated substance abuse that causes physical, mental, and behavioral changes. Addiction to fentanyl can happen within four to eight weeks of using, and it happens in stages. When a person is given a prescription for fentanyl, they may develop tolerance with repeated use, which can develop surprisingly rapidly and within just a few weeks. Tolerance is when the body needs more of the drug to feel the same effect which can then lead to physical dependence. When a person has developed dependence, their body adapts to having the drug in their system and will experience withdrawal symptoms when they cut down or stop use. This can create a cycle of addiction because individuals will continue to use rather than seek help because it is the easiest and quickest way to escape withdrawal. Psychologically, they may feel they need fentanyl to be able to function like a normal person and use the drug as a coping mechanism. They may overmedicate themselves when they perceive moderate pain as severe pain.
For more information on how our addiction treatment programs can help heal drug or alcohol dependence, please give The River Source a call at 866-828-6792.
What Are the Signs Someone Is Addicted to Fentanyl?
Often dependency and addiction are used interchangeably. However, the biggest difference is addiction causes drug use to no longer is a conscious choice. The person can no longer control their choices and actions. Fentanyl use takes priority over everything in their lives including relationships, work, hobbies, and their health. They will continue to be used despite negative consequences. Fentanyl addiction will manifest with physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms.
Some signs someone is using fentanyl include:
Development of Psychological Changes
Fentanyl abuse can cause someone to have difficulty concentrating or remembering things, as well as mental health changes. These can include:
- Mood swings
- Impaired judgment
Physical Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
Taking more than prescribed can cause physical changes in a person, especially drowsiness or “nodding off.” Addiction also has negative health effects that will make a person look ill. Some physical signs include:
- Labored or shallow breathing
- Pale skin
- Sunken eyes
- Sores or ulcers in the mouth
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech
- Slowed movements
- Behavioral changes
Fentanyl addiction will take precedence over everything in a person’s life. They may begin to act differently such as withdrawing from friends and family, hanging out with new people, and engaging in risky behaviors.
- Develop tolerance. They take more fentanyl or for a longer time than intended.
Unable to cut down use. Fentanyl addiction causes compulsive use and no longer being able to control use, even when they want to.
- Deterioration in work, school, or home obligations. Addiction will cause fentanyl abuse to take priority over everything, including their responsibilities.
- Continued use despite negative consequences. Even though they have lost their job or friends due to fentanyl abuse, they still cannot stop using it.
- Physical and mental health effects have developed. Continued fentanyl abuse will cause negative impacts on a person’s health. They still cannot stop using it even when they notice their health has deteriorated.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using. When they stop using they develop withdrawal symptoms such as chills, sweating, muscle aches, nausea, and anxiety.
Steps You Can Take to Help a Loved One Get Help for Fentanyl Addiction
If you suspect your loved one is struggling with fentanyl addiction, getting them help as soon as possible is critical. However, defensiveness and denial are common among addicts, and getting a loved one to realize they have a substance abuse disorder can be difficult. Here are steps you can take to get a loved one to attend addiction treatment:
- Step 1: Know the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction. As discussed above, there are several physicals, mental and behavioral signs someone has a fentanyl addiction.
- Step 2: Find Out if They Are Open to the Idea of Rehab. Talk to them from a place of compassion about the signs you see and how they feel about their fentanyl use. They may have already noticed they are struggling with fentanyl abuse and did not know how to reach out for help. Ask them if they are open to the idea of addiction treatment.
- Step 3: Research Treatment Options. This can include the type of program, location, and drug rehab financing.
- Step 4: Discuss Options with a Counselor. If the person is still in denial, a counselor specializing in addiction can help give you more specific guidance and help you plan out an intervention.
- Step 5: Plan an Intervention. This is the most effective way to confront a person struggling with addiction. An intervention specialist is also usually necessary.
- Step 6: Show your Love, Support, and Understanding. Being there for them throughout their recovery journey and educating yourself about addiction can help you come from a place of compassion and understanding.
What to Expect During Fentanyl Rehab
A variety of rehab programs are available to address all fentanyl addiction severities. Usually, opioid addiction requires medical detox to safely and effectively stop opioid use. Around-the-clock medical care and medication-assisted treatment in drug detox programs can help individuals go through withdrawal much more easily and safely. It will also allow the person to enter drug rehab with a clear body and mind.
Rehab programs are available in several levels of care including residential inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP), and outpatient treatment. A step down can provide the best approach to long-term recovery. Fentanyl rehab programs will include several types of addiction treatment aimed at addressing the underlying causes of addiction while providing several tools and skills necessary to manage substance use disorders long-term. Individual and group therapy sessions will make up most of the recovery program. Effective treatment plans will be individualized based on an initial evaluation from clinical staff. They will also include thorough relapse prevention planning which can include aftercare programs.
Reach Out for Help Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl abuse, there is no better day than today to reach out for help. The River Source offers comprehensive treatment programs throughout Arizona. Our unique integrative treatment program incorporates holistic treatments into conventional addiction treatment to provide body, mind, and spirit healing for successful long-term recovery. Fentanyl addiction treatment will be personalized for each person and depend on where they are in their stages of addiction. Whether you have quickly realized you have developed dependence and only need help stopping fentanyl use to prevent addiction or have struggled with long-term addiction, our evidence-based approach can help you recover.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at 866-828-6792. Our addiction specialists are ready to answer your questions and help you determine if a drug rehab program at The River Source is right for you.