Chronic pain is more common among women than men, and opioids like fentanyl are often prescribed to them to ease the pain. Many of them, however, abuse the drug by using it for a longer periods of time, way longer than their prescription allowed. In many cases, this prescription drug also falls into the hands of their friends or relatives and this has become the most frequent way that adolescents begin to abuse opioids.
Someone who was prescribed fentanyl for pain and later finds himself abusing it and becoming addicted to it, may find it hard to understand why they were given a prescription that can be addictive, in the first place. Fentanyl, first and foremost, is prescribed in many forms to deal with genuine problems of severe or chronic pain.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It has been developed as a painkiller for surgical procedures and post-surgery recoveries. The drug is also often prescribed to cancer patients, who experience severe flare-ups of breakthrough pain. Fentanyl, according to medical experts, is similar to Demerol (meperidine).
The main difference between fentanyl and over-the-counter pain medications like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is that these other medications affect the local site of the pain. Fentanyl, on the other hand, works by inhibiting the pain pathways from the site of the pain to the brain. Its mechanism of action has made fentanyl more fast-acting than all other pain relievers in the market.
Fentanyl produces a sense of euphoria and pleasant sedation. Many users start seeking out that “high” feeling and rush of euphoria to drown out their emotional pain. Fentanyl interacts with opioid receptors in the brain’s reward areas, reinforcing repeated use and abuse.
The physical effects of fentanyl abuse include tolerance. A person’s body begins to need higher doses every time to get the same effect. Withdrawal sickness also can manifest if a person decreases or stops their fentanyl use. A fentanyl addict may start by just liking the drug, but sooner their body will crave for it and its effects.
Opioids, as they are categorized under, are the strongest and most effective drugs available for pain relief. Fentanyl works by attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors, activating it to cause a complex cascade of events in the brain. One of these events is increased dopamine activity, producing a sense of euphoria. Another structure involved is the area of the brain is called the nucleus accumbens. This plays a role in the development of compulsive fentanyl use.
Once you begin giving yourself that euphoric sensation on a daily basis, the most important action to do is to assess yourself for the signs of fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl detox is best done in an inpatient detox setting. It is much safer than trying to detox at home, and our expertly trained staff will be there to assist you in the detox process.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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