Fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times the strength of morphine, has become a fixture in the illicit drug industry. It’s been added to opioids, cocaine, and even psychedelic drugs like Molly. And while there are plenty of people ingesting it accidentally, there are also many users who tried it once and became completely hooked. Because fentanyl is such a potent drug, longer-term users have more challenges quitting. Some experts say that Medication-Assisted Treatment can’t meet their needs, which can cause delays and defeat when a user wants to quit.
Why Is Fentanyl So Addictive?
Fentanyl is one of the most potent drugs on the market. It can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Morphine, too, is a powerful drug that can be up to 50 times as strong as heroin. So, it’s no surprise that a strong addiction can have powerful side effects when a user tries to quit.
Fentanyl was created for medical settings and is used in operations to keep patients comfortable and asleep. It is also used for severe pain for people with serious spinal cord injuries or terminal diseases like stomach cancer. For people with opioid use disorder, it t is one of the most potent drugs on the market. It’s also readily available through apps and word-of-mouth on the street. Fentanyl is responsible for the majority of drug overdoses for one simple reason; it’s been found in almost every type of drug on the market.
Fentanyl was meant for medical settings and life-threatening pain. It’s never safe to use, not even one time. Often it is stronger on the street than in clinical settings, which can make it deadly.
Buprenorphine And Fentanyl Addiction Recovery
Buprenorphine, known under the brand name Sublocade and Suboxone, one of just two medications that can treat fentanyl addiction, can also fail when fentanyl users try it. In addition, clinicians say that buprenorphine appears more likely to cause severe withdrawal symptoms for patients who are addicted to fentanyl. (People who use Oxy or heroin don’t experience the same intensity, and buprenorphine instead reduces cravings.)
Methadone is a safer prospect for people who use fentanyl regularly, but it is a highly regulated medication. Most people who take methadone are forced to travel to a clinic and take it under supervision daily. As a result, it can be impossible for people with other responsibilities, such as jobs and families, to meet the clinic’s requirements.
The FDA considers MAT the golden standard of treatment, yet it’s not available to many people due to stigma and location.
Treating Withdrawal Symptoms
Doctors in addiction recovery have not yet met a consensus. Some have opted to refer their patients to clinics or try to monitor closely during the first phase of MAT treatment with buprenorphine, called induction. Some doctors have prescribed much more significant amounts of the drug off-label, as much as four times a typical first dose. There are no guidelines for treating fentanyl addiction, and they feel like they’re on their own. Many people who experience side effects quit treatment during induction.
Experts say buprenorphine induction is still possible with fentanyl but needs to be altered to address the issues. Time will tell if better MAT options can address the fentanyl crisis.