Addiction MedicineLearn More
Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that has increasingly found its way into the illegal drug trade over the last 10 years. It has become the “street” opioid of choice because of its potency and availability since prescription opioids have become more expensive and difficult to obtain. Fentanyl in Arizona is most commonly found in “fake” Percocet 30’s, but is now also found in “fake” Xanax bars, heroin, ecstasy, crystal meth and even some marijuana.
Fentanyl is very addictive. The pain relief and euphoric effects are strong but do not last long. Patients quickly develop a tolerance to the drug which will require that they’ll need more fentanyl to have the same effect. Also, fentanly is eliminated from the body relatively quickly creating a “dependence” on frequent dosing in order to prevent “dope sick” from withdrawals.
The availability of fentanyl, the potency, the ease of developing tolerance and dependence, and the severity of withdrawal symptoms make fentanyl addiction very difficult to stop and very dangerous to continue.
Within 10 - 15 hours after the last dose most fentanyl dependent people will experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity and length of time people experience withdrawals depends on the daily amount consumed and the length of time they have been using. Symptoms make include some or all of the following; sweats, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, bone pains, muscle spasms, restless leg, insomia, increased heart rate, nervous anxiety, skin crawling, runny nose, yawning, eyes tearing, and pupil dilation.
The most important aspect of treatment in harm prevention. Many people addicted to fentanyl are not ready to quit. In this case our treatment focuses on “harm prevention” until they are ready to become sober. Harm prevention requires that every person addicted to fentanyl has an adequate supply of Narcan to be used in case of an overdose. Also, people should never use fentanyl alone in case of an overdose. Lastly, people using fentanyl by injecting into their veins should never share needles. For free Narcan kits please contact our office or Sonoran Prevention Works. https://spwaz.org/
Many parents of addicted loved ones ask, “Dr. Nelson, what is your success rate for addiction?”
My simple answer is 100%. Then I remain silent.
After an awkward pause, usually the parents ask “are you serious?”
Then I explain that if a person addicted to fentanyl is 100% committed to sobriety and does everything we propose in our treatment plan, they’ll enjoy life-changing permanent sobriety. If they are not committed or they are here against their will or in order to receive conditional support, they’ll predictably fail. This truthful and revealing conversation properly shifts the focus of successful treatment from the doctor to the patient. In short, we have incredible success with those people committed to recovery
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