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Fentanyl Addiction- Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but much more powerful. It was originally developed as a painkiller for people undergoing surgery. It is currently commonly used to treat patients with chronic pain, suffering while recovering from a surgical procedure, or battling a serious and painful illness such as advanced cancer.

Fentanyl is a Schedule II prescription drug, meaning it has a legitimate medical use, but is also recognized as having a high potential for abuse. Fentanyl overdoses are currently on the rise in the US, and it is one of many illicit drugs now in circulation on the streets being manufactured by clandestine laboratories. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl comes in pills, or white powder form sometimes referred to as ‘China Girl’ (slang for fentanyl). Because fentanyl is a powerful drug, it can induce a rapid and intense high, particularly when crushed pills or powder are dissolved in water and injected. For this reason, many people abuse it intentionally. However, many others ingest it unknowingly. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often added to heroin or other drugs, meaning users are unaware their drug dose contains it. Involuntary use of fentanyl is one of the main causes of a fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl also has a number of derivatives, such as ‘China White’, a particularly prized form of the drug due to its extreme potency.

Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl works by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors, located in the areas of the brain that govern pain and emotions. The sought-after pleasant effects of fentanyl are mainly a state of extreme happiness, intense relaxation, and rapid pain relief. Even in small doses, there are a host of other effects:

  • drowsiness, even sedation
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • constricted pupils
  • nausea and vomiting
  • urinary retention
  • respiratory depression.

Tolerance to fentanyl, physical and psychological dependence, and addiction are other common effects of the drug with regular use.

Fentanyl Addiction

As with other opioid addictions, fentanyl addiction often begins with a drug habit that escalates into drug abuse. When a person’s use becomes habitual, compulsive, and beyond their control, it becomes a substance use disorder. Continued use in spite of highly negative consequences is the hallmark of addiction.

Like other prescription opioids, fentanyl can be abused even in the form it is sold legally. Transdermal fentanyl, in the form of a patch placed on the skin where it is absorbed, can be chewed, swallowed, or sniffed, and pills can be crushed and then snorted, smoked, or dissolved in water and injected. Fentanyl abuse rapidly leads to:

  • Tolerance: The user needs ever greater amounts of the drug, more and more frequently, to experience the desired effect.
  • Dependence: A person’s body and mind become accustomed to regular and continued use of fentanyl, to the extent they can no longer function without it.
  • Addiction.

Generally speaking, some form of comprehensive addiction treatment is required for a person to succeed in giving up fentanyl use.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Although not all of the following symptoms will be present in all fentanyl users, nor necessarily simultaneously in one individual, people addicted to fentanyl (or to any other opioid drug), display certain characteristic signs and behaviors:

  • The person takes more fentanyl, or for a longer period than they had initially intended (the beginning of the loss of control of their using habits).
  • The person has powerful cravings to use the drug and devotes considerable time and energy to obtaining it, using it, and recovering from its effects.
  • As a result of their fentanyl abuse, the person fails to uphold important obligations, such as work or family responsibilities.
  • The person becomes socially withdrawn and isolates more, in order to spend more time using drugs.
  • The person continues to abuse fentanyl, even though it puts them or others in dangerous situations (such as driving when on fentanyl), adversely affects their physical and mental health, causes problems with law enforcement, and so on.
  • The person is unable to stop using the drug, in spite of their best efforts and sincere intentions.
  • Because of the tolerance they have developed to fentanyl, they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they are without it for too long.

Doctors generally refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, to establish a diagnosis of substance use disorder. Should they believe a person is under the grip of fentanyl use in this way, they will most certainly recommend some form of fentanyl addiction treatment.

Fentanyl Overdose

Any drug use potentially carries with it the risk of overdose, but opioid overdoses are particularly common due to the popularity of these drugs for illegal, recreational use. It is clear that once the stage of addiction is reached, a person is far more at risk of unintentionally taking more of a drug than their body can process.

Fentanyl overdoses are currently among the most frequent- the drug enforcement administration states that, according to the CDC, over the 12-month span from the end of January 2020 to the end of January 2022, “overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) rose 55.6 percent and appear to be the primary driver of the increase in total drug overdose deaths.”

Let us remember that overdoses don’t normally happen overnight; there is generally a history of drug use, and often mental health issues, that precede them. It goes without saying that addiction or drug abuse put someone at risk every time they use their drug, or drugs, of choice.

Fentanyl and other opioids are so strong (30 to 50 times stronger than heroin in the case of fentanyl), that a person may inadvertently overdose the first time they take them. This is a particular risk with fentanyl because it is common practice for drug dealers to add small amounts of fentanyl to other drugs, like heroin, cocaine, or amphetamine. By substituting a little of these drugs with a small amount of the extremely potent, and cheaper, fentanyl, the user gets the same high, and the dealer makes more money.

Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms

The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose may not be immediately apparent to an onlooker, and some will be felt only by the drug user. The most common and most noticeable, however, are very slow or abnormally shallow breathing. Unusually slow and ineffective breathing, known as respiratory depression, means less oxygen intake to the point where the brain may be starved of oxygen, leading to a state of hypoxia. This can lead to coma, irreversible brain damage, or even death. Therefore, if these abnormal breathing patterns persist, medical attention is advised, particularly if the person complains of other symptoms too.

Treatment for Overdose

The drug naloxone can treat fentanyl overdose. When administered immediately, naloxone can reverse the effects of fentanyl. However, because fentanyl is so strong, several doses of naloxone may be required. If you are concerned that you or someone near you may have taken too much fentanyl, you should call 911 at once. Once medical personnel arrives, they will decide if they are facing a case of opioid overdose, and administer naloxone as required.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl

With any opioid overdose, severe withdrawal symptoms invariably follow, while the body struggles to rid itself of the drug. Any person who has developed a high tolerance to addictive drugs like fentanyl will also experience withdrawal symptoms if they go without it for too long. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • pain in muscles and bones
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • cold flashes accompanied by goosebumps
  • severe cravings
  • uncontrollable leg movements

The withdrawal process can be so unpleasant that many people find they are unable to stop taking fentanyl. There are currently medicines being developed to help alleviate this discomfort, but there is as yet no remedy that systematically works as well as naloxone does for overdoses.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl is a hugely powerful and dangerous synthetic opioid. In the majority of cases, a comprehensive addiction treatment program that combines various approaches – associating medication with therapy – is usually what it takes to help a person step out of their addiction and onto the road to a solid recovery. The role of medication is to reduce the intensity of the cravings a person may experience and, particularly in the early stages of recovery, the discomfort from withdrawal. Naltrexone is one of these medications, as are methadone and buprenorphine. Counseling and behavioral therapy complement pharmaceutical treatment.

Fentanyl is one of the most powerful prescription opioid analgesics, and in the forms it is sold on the street, it is one of the most dangerous and at times lethal drugs in circulation. If the stage of full-blown addiction is reached, fentanyl can hold people in a vice-like grip from which it is almost impossible to escape unaided.

As a reputable holistic drug treatment center, we at Empowered Recovery know exactly the suffering opioid addiction causes – and we offer a compassionate solution. If you or a loved one are struggling, please reach out and let us help you on the road back to wellness and the fulfilling life you deserve.

Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone is a prescription medication used for pain relief. A branded version, OxyContin, was aggressively marketed by Purdue Pharma from 1996 with sales growing from $48m in 1996 to $1.1b in 2000. This has led to high availability and correlates with increased abuse and addiction.

In addition, there is a high risk of oxycodone abuse and dependence due to its potency and its euphoric effects.

We will talk about oxycodone addiction, signs and symptoms of it, risk factors, the process of quitting, and how you can seek support.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain such as cancer and post-operation pain. It was first synthesized in Germany in 1916 from thebaine, a compound found in opium poppies, and was introduced to the US in 1939.

At first, oxycodone was used for battlefield surgeries as it is a strong analgesic that also causes tranquilizing effects and anterograde amnesia.

Oxycodone works by hyperpolarizing neurons. This means that more excitation is needed to activate them and therefore a depressant effect is produced.

The effects of oxycodone start after one hour and last for up to twelve hours. These include psychoactive effects, euphoric feelings, reduced anxiety, and increased confidence.

Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that while it has medical use, it also has a high risk for abuse and severe psychological or physical dependence.

The United States Department of Justice reported that more than 13m Americans abuse oxycodone annually.

Prescription drug abuse is defined as the taking of a prescription drug in a way that was not prescribed. This includes taking:

  • more frequent doses than prescribed
  • larger doses than prescribed
  • someone else’s prescription
  • in a different way than prescribed e.g., crushing and snorting rather than swallowing a pill

Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a chronic brain disease that is very difficult to control and is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use. This differs from drug abuse in that with abuse without addiction, your behavior will not be so strongly affected and you will have more control over how and when you take the drug. Abusing oxycodone can lead to addiction as oxycodone is a very potent drug.

Causes and Risk Factors for Addiction

Genetics

The response of the brain to drugs varies from person to person. Some people may be able to take oxycodone occasionally for pleasure, while others will develop a substance use disorder quickly.

It is thought that up to half of your risk of developing an addiction is based on genetics.

Environmental Factors

  • Family history of addiction
  • Childhood neglect or trauma
  • Previous substance abuse problem
  • Exposure to drugs – people taking them in your environment

Mental Health

It is common to have co-occurring mental illness with addiction. Common co-occurring disorders include depression and bipolar disorder. This is because untreated mental illnesses are often self-medicated with drugs or alcohol.

Signs of Oxycodone Abuse

Even when used as prescribed, oxycodone can have side effects. With long-term use and higher doses, the effects become stronger. These effects can have both psychological and physical symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

Side effects of normal oxycodone use:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach problems
  • Itchiness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness and vertigo

Signs and symptoms of oxycodone abuse:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor coordination
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Swelling of limbs
  • Increased pressure of spinal fluid
  • Coma

Psychological and Cognitive Symptoms

Side effects of normal oxycodone use:

  • Confusion

Signs and symptoms of oxycodone abuse:

  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Outbursts of violence or anger
  • Anxiety and paranoia

Behavioral Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

As addiction is described as a compulsion to seek drugs despite negative effects. The behavioral symptoms of addiction may be a better indication of whether you or a loved one has an oxycodone addiction.

You might have an oxycodone addiction if you:

  • Are secretive
  • Perform poorly at work or school
  • Increase your dose to get the same effect as tolerance builds
  • Try to quit and fail to
  • Obsess about getting your next dose
  • Steal oxycodone
  • Lose interest in hobbies
  • Fail to meet personal responsibilities
  • Feel like oxycodone is taking over your life
  • Lose control over how much you take and how frequently
  • Withdraw from friends and family members
  • Neglect hygiene and self-care
  • Start risk-taking behavior e.g., drug driving, mixing oxycodone with other drugs, unprotected sex
  • Go to multiple doctors for prescriptions i.e., doctor shopping

Oxycodone Overdose

There is always the risk of overdose. However, the amount you need to take in order to overdose depends on different factors such as weight, tolerance, gender, and metabolism.

There is also a higher risk of overdose if you mix oxycodone with other substances. This is especially true of mixing with other depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. Since these depress the nervous system, together they can cause slowing of breathing and heart rate to the point where they stop.

Overdose effects include

  • Stomach spasms
  • Weak pulse
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or no breathing
  • Blueish fingernails and lips

Oxycodone Withdrawal

Quitting oxycodone can be very difficult as the first thing you must do is detox which causes you to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Quitting abruptly is not recommended as withdrawal symptoms are not managed and the chance of overdose is very high. Instead, it is better to taper your drug use, reducing the dose you take until you are clean. While you will still experience symptoms, they may be less severe.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Sweating
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Shakes and seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings

Timeline of Withdrawal

The acute symptoms of withdrawal from oxycodone generally last for five to seven days. However, if you have been taking it for a long time, or you take it heavily, the withdrawal symptoms may last up to ten days.

Symptoms usually start within six to thirty hours after your last dose and peak at seventy-two hours. However, psychological symptoms and cravings can last for longer and it is therefore important to have support after detoxing to reduce your chances of relapse.

Addiction Treatment

When quitting drugs, it is recommended to seek professional treatment. Getting medical support makes the withdrawal process easier and also reduces your chances of relapsing both during detox and after.

Treatment Process

At a treatment center, you will receive twenty-four-hour support during the withdrawal process. This means that both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms can be managed which is important to prevent the risks of self-harm and relapse.

Following detox, you will continue to get support to help deal with cravings and your initial reasons for taking the drug. This is done through individual and group therapy.

Get in Touch

At Empowered Recovery center, we customize drug treatment to suit your needs. We know that it is difficult for those with substance abuse disorders to seek treatment. If you are ready to seek treatment or would like more information in order to make that decision, please feel free to visit our website and contact us.

Is Cyclobenzaprine Addictive?

Cyclobenzaprine is a skeletal muscle relaxant commonly prescribed for musculoskeletal problems among other uses. The drug is widely known by the brand name Flexeril, which contains the active ingredient. Cyclobenzaprine is not a controlled substance, however, it is only available by prescription. Despite being relatively easy to obtain, Flexeril does carry a risk for abuse, tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction. This risk increases if the drug is combined with other drugs such as alcohol or opioids.

Here we look at the factors contributing to the addictive nature of cyclobenzaprine, common withdrawal symptoms, and how to access addiction treatment.

What is Cyclobenzaprine?

Cyclobenzaprine is an FDA-approved prescription muscle relaxer used to relieve muscle spasms and chronic pain associated with musculoskeletal problems such as strains, tears, and aches. It is also commonly used in the treatment of the condition fibromyalgia. The substance belongs to a group of drugs called ‘tricyclic antidepressants’. Used in a variety of settings, tricyclic antidepressants can be used to treat depression, migraines, insomnia, tinnitus, ADHD, and as described, musculoskeletal conditions.

Cyclobenzaprine belongs to a group of central nervous system (CNS) depressants that decrease muscle activity, resulting in the desired muscle relaxant outcome. The substance can only be legally acquired via prescription, and any use should be supervised by a medical clinician. Cyclobenzaprine is available as quick-acting and longer-acting oral tablets.

Common brand names for cyclobenzaprine include the following:

  • Flexeril
  • Amrix
  • Fexmid
  • FusePaq Tramadol

Street names for cyclobenzaprine include the following:

  • Flexies
  • Cyclone
  • Mellow yellow

In the treatment of muscular conditions, Flexeril – a commonly prescribed brand of Cyclobenzaprine – is usually used in combination with physical therapy, massage, or exercise. If used for other forms of treatment, it is likely to be used in conjunction with other therapies.

Using Flexeril Safely

Due to the nature of Flexeril, there are some important instructions on how to use it safely. As the substance can result in drowsiness, it is recommended to avoid driving or using heavy machinery until you are familiar with the effects. It is also possible to become dehydrated when using Flexeril, and for this reason, it is recommended to use it with caution in hot weather and to ensure adequate hydration. It is also strongly recommended to avoid using any other form of prescription medication with it unless a doctor has approved it.

The Addictive Nature of Cyclobenzaprine

Cyclobenzaprine is only available by prescription in the USA, meaning that it has some potential to be misused.

Prescription drug abuse, such as cyclobenzaprine, is common to see in young adults as these substances are relatively easy to obtain. Some individuals may steal or be given them by friends or family members, while others may buy them illicitly on the internet.

Some individuals who abuse cyclobenzaprine may have started using the substance with an authorized prescription; however, this can quickly turn into tolerance and abuse if higher quantities of the drug are used or it is used for an extended period of time. An increased tolerance increases the chances of experiencing a Flexeril overdose. Much like most prescription drugs, abusing Flexeril can quickly turn into a fully-fledged addiction.

What is the Flexeril High?

Flexeril abuse is commonly associated with the ‘high’ it can produce in high dosages. Although not as intense as many other commonly abused substances, cyclobenzaprine can produce a feeling of calm, drowsiness, and even a ‘floating sensation’.

This gentle feeling of euphoria is what leads individuals to continue using the substance despite the associated risks.

These effects are not usually associated with prescribed doses of the drug, and if they are it would only be possible in first-time users.

Signs of Flexeril Abuse

Although it does not carry the same reputation for addiction as other drugs such as methamphetamines or heroin, it is possible to develop a debilitating and dangerous problem with cyclobenzaprine. If you are concerned about your personal drug use, or that a loved one may be addicted to Flexeril, it is important to familiarize yourself with the common signs of abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Flexeril Addiction

Some typical indicators of problematic substance use include:

  • Drug cravings for cyclobenzaprine
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug
  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities due to abusing Flexeril, could be in your relationship, job or school work.
  • A loss of interest in things previously enjoyed
  • Isolation or breakdown of relationships due to Flexeril dependency
  • Attempting to quit drug use but being unable
  • Continuing to use the substance despite negative consequences
  • Using the drug in risky scenarios
  • Increasing your Flexeril dose
  • Being preoccupied with using and obtaining the drug
  • Stealing money or prescriptions, or doing dangerous things in order to buy the drug
  • Mixing cyclobenzaprine with illicit drugs or alcohol
  • Feeling numb or empty
  • Asking for cyclobenzaprine prescriptions from multiple doctors
  • Flexeril overdose

If any of these indicators are familiar to you, it may mean you need to seek addiction treatment for your substance use. Get in touch with a medical provider today to find out your treatment options.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms of Cyclobenzaprine

If you experience withdrawal symptoms when not using cyclobenzaprine, or as the drug wears off, this could be a clear indication that you are addicted to Flexeril.

Withdrawal from cyclobenzaprine is often assimilated with flu-like symptoms. This set of symptoms is often referred to as ‘Flexeril discontinuation syndrome’. It is not usually life-threatening, however, if Flexeril is being used in combination with other substances the danger increases and it could have fatal consequences.

Common symptoms of withdrawal

  • Aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Headache or migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Chills
  • Fever

Dangers of Abusing Cyclobenzaprine

In some cases, Flexeril abuse can result in overdose. This is especially true if the substance is combined with other drugs such as alcohol. A Flexeril overdose can result in cardiac arrest, dangerously low blood pressure, central nervous system depression, or seizures. Flexeril overdose is a real and life-threatening possibility. Don’t delay seeking support if you suspect somebody has taken a large quantity of the drug.

report by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2010, found that there were over 10,000 references of cyclobenzaprine in calls made to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Furthermore, The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported in 2011 that more than 11,000 individuals received care from emergency departments for misusing cyclobenzaprine.

According to data going back to the early 2000’s, the trajectory of emergency department visits at the hands of cyclobenzaprine is on the rise. In 2010, it was estimated that there were around 12,411 emergency room visits linked to cyclobenzaprine. This is an increase of around 101% from 6,183 visits in 2004.

Who Is At Risk of Cyclobenzaprine Abuse?

Anybody can develop a Flexeril addiction, but there are some factors that make certain individuals more susceptible to developing a problem.

Risk Factors for a Flexeril Addiction

  • Individuals with a personal history of substance or alcohol abuse
  • Individuals with a family history of substance or alcohol abuse
  • Those who spend time in drug-taking environments
  • Individuals with a history of mental illness
  • Somebody who has not been informed of the addictive nature of prescription drugs

The Role of Mental Health in Addiction Treatment

Going through substance addiction is an extremely difficult experience. In order to have a chance to fully recover, it’s imperative to understand the disease and how it manifests in you personally.

Substance abuse is frequently a symptom of untreated mental health problems; it is necessary to treat these simultaneously with the addiction. Substance abuse can occur at any time, for anyone, but recovery is possible with the right support.

Although not exclusively, cyclobenzaprine addiction commonly begins in the teenage years. This is often a difficult time, with many changes and developments occurring. Depression, anxiety, and stress are common and often substance abuse seems like the best escape to mental health issues.

Starting Your Recovery Journey

Substance abuse is a serious illness. Flexeril addiction treatment should always be sought from a qualified and reputable medical provider. Flexeril withdrawal symptoms are not usually dangerous, so it may not be necessary to take part in medical detox. However, the support and safety of an inpatient treatment center can increase your chances of sustained recovery and decrease the likelihood of relapse or medical emergency.

Tapering off cyclobenzaprine can be uncomfortable, so detoxing in a comfortable environment such as a residential setting is often preferable. If you use any other drugs it may be necessary to have a medically-assisted detox.

Being an unscheduled substance with a perceived ‘low potential for abuse’, cyclobenzaprine does not carry a high reputation for abuse, but this can give a false sense of security. It’s possible to develop a damaging cycle of using this prescription muscle relaxer, leading to severe consequences.

Receiving quality health care and compassionate support is the most important element to getting you on your journey to sobriety.

Treatment Options for Cyclobenzaprine Drug Abuse

At Empowered Recovery, we recognize the need for individualized drug addiction treatment. We tailor your treatment program to suit your specific needs and desires for recovery.

Therapy Modalities at Empowered Recovery:

  • Behavioral therapies
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Complementary therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma-focused therapy
  • Group therapy

We focus on short and long-term goals to keep your motivation in the right place and ensure you remain on track. During your time with us, you will be able to take advantage of our treatment facilities while engaging in a range of skills-based sessions to complement your therapeutic work.

Empowered Recovery

If you are ready to seek addiction treatment, we are here to guide you through. At Empowered Recovery, we recognize the unique nature of your substance use disorder, and we reflect this in our treatment process.

Flexeril abuse has the capability to profoundly affect your physical and mental health. Whether you started using with a legitimate prescription, you fell into a cycle of recreational use, or you have been self-medicating, we can provide the help you need.

We believe in offering treatment programs that are sustainable and achievable for all our clients. We work together with you to find the right path to recovery. We have a variety of treatment plans which are tailored to your needs, getting you to a place of health and sobriety.

Our highly-committed and qualified team is here to support you through the early days of the treatment process and give you a foundation from which you can grow and develop. We use a range of therapeutic modalities and offer fully customized packages suited to all of your needs. Flexeril abuse may be part of your past, but it doesn’t have to be part of your future.

Get in touch with us today at 678.737.4386 to talk to one of our team members about our addiction treatment services and to get the ball rolling.

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