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Fentanyl Addiction

William D Nelson, NMD -  - Physical Medicine

Explore Health

William D Nelson, NMD

Physical Medicine & Addiction Medicine located in North Scottsdale, AZ & Flagstaff, AZ

Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous drug 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. In spite of the known dangers of this there has been a huge increase in people abusing fentanyl resulting in over 100,000 deaths annually in the United States (11) CDC 12-17-2021. 

Fentanyl Addiction Q & A

What is fentanyl?

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.

What is fentanyl addiction?

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.

What are Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms?

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.

What is Fentanyl “Harm Reduction?”

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.

What is the most important element of successful treatment for fentanyl addiction?

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

What is the best treatment for fentanyl addiction?

The successful treatment can be separated into three aspects.
  1. Withdrawal Support
  2. Medical Assisted Treatment [MAT]
  3. Personal Development and Creating Health
Our office provides outpatient medical support for withdrawal. We can provide IV fluid support focused on supporting nutritional deficiencies. Our office also provides NAD therapy that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. In addition we offer the Bridge Device, comfort medications, such as Zofran, Ketorolac, Lucemyra.
After a person has successfully gone through withdrawal, we offer medical assisted treatments. Our office has performed more Naltrexone Pellet implants than any other treatment center in the world. We also offer Vivitrol injections for those who would prefer monthly injections.
Dr. Nelson has been helping patients create optimal health by addressing their biochemical, physical and emotional challenges for 25 years. While on Naltrexone therapy with pellet implants or vivitrol patient’s need to optimize all three areas to maintain sobriety. We recommend a minimum of two years devoted to optimizing your health to prevent relapse. In addition to optimizing your brain chemistry, hormones, getting rid of back or joint pain, we also refer to a number of counselors and addiction coaches to keep you on track.

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)
  • NAD+ is an intravenous (IV) treatment that helps restore your neurologic and brain chemistry to significantly reduce fentanyl cravings, improve mental and physical energy levels, enhance concentration, and relieve anxiety and depression during the detox process.
Vivitrol® injection
  • Vivitrol is an injectable treatment that can help prevent opioid relapse after the detox process. That means you cannot have opioids in your system when you start the Vivitrol protocol.
Naltrexone Pellet Implants
  • Naltrexone is an FDA-approved treatment that helps block the effects of opioids, including fentanyl. At Explore Health, Dr. Nelson offers implantable naltrexone pellets.
To learn more about fentanyl addiction treatments, call Explore Health or schedule an appointment online today. Find more information.