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Fentanyl Addiction Intervention and Treatment in California



Fentanyl addiction intervention and drug rehab options in California include medically supervised detox, withdrawal management, medication-assisted treatment, residential drug rehab, and outpatient drug rehab programs. Most opioid addicts that use fentanyl are using other opioid types, whether painkillers or street drugs. When searching for drug rehab programs in California for fentanyl addiction, there are different options for the family to consider. Initially, an addiction assessment is beneficial with a qualified healthcare provider. An assessment helps the addict or family determine the severity and extent of addiction and offers drug rehab solutions. The drug rehab options provided are geared towards the needs of the addict. Another option for families to consider is accessing drug rehab through private or state health insurance. Most health insurance plans cover some portion of drug rehab and are an excellent option to help families cover some of the cost.


What is Fentanyl, and How is it Used?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is a prescription drug, yet most illegal fentanyl or non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is produced in labs and is not controlled or regulated. Prescription fentanyl is used to treat severe or chronic pain; however, the risk for tolerance and dependence is high. When someone is prescribed prescription fentanyl, it is usually given as a shot or as a patch that is placed on the individual’s skin. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl or illegal fentanyl is sold as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like prescription pain medication. Many drug dealers will mix fentanyl into cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA, and even cannabis.

Most fentanyl-related overdose deaths occur because the drug user is unaware fentanyl is in the drug they are using. Fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and was introduced as an anesthetic in 1960, and is legally manufactured. However, illegal fentanyl products are diverted via theft, fraudulent prescriptions, and illicit distribution by patients, physicians, and pharmacists. Illegal fentanyl can be injected, snorted, sniffed, smoked, taken orally by pill or tablet, and spiked on blotter paper. Fentanyl is dangerous because of the risk of overdose. Overdose can result in stupor, changes in pupillary size, cold and clammy skin, cyanosis, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death. Preventing overdose is critical, and drug rehab centers and medical detox in California can help opioid addicts overcome addiction.


What are Common Street Names for Fentanyl

Some of the common street names for fentanyl include China Girl, Apache, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8, and Tango and Cash. Within the United States, Fentanyl is a schedule II narcotic under the United States Controlled Substances Act. Fentanyl pharmaceutical products are available in oral transmucosal lozenges, effervescent buccal tablets, sublingual tablets, sublingual sprays, nasal sprays, transdermal patches, and injectable forms. Unfortunately, all of these methods are found illegally and sold illegally in the United States. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is encountered either as a powder or in counterfeit tablets sold along or in combination with other drugs.  


What Causes Fentanyl Addiction?

The effects of fentanyl are similar to other commonly used opioids and cause relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, and pupillary constriction. People abuse fentanyl because of the intense euphoric effects. Drug addiction involving fentanyl occurs because of tolerance and dependence on the drug. Medical detox programs and medication-assisted treatment in California help opioid addicts overcome this. Like morphine and other opioid drugs, fentanyl binds to the body’s opioid receptors that are found in the part of the brain that controls pain and emotion. The brain adapts to the drug diminishing the sensitivity developing tolerance and dependence. The effects of fentanyl include extreme happiness, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, problems breathing, and unconsciousness.

Additionally, fentanyl is addictive because of its potency and how quickly someone becomes dependent. Drug addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and drug use that is difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. Someone who is addicted to fentanyl continues to use it even though it is causing health problems, issues at work, school, or home. Fentanyl addiction also leads to withdrawal symptoms, and some common symptoms include muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes, goosebumps, and uncontrolled leg movements, and severe cravings.


Fentanyl Addiction Treatment and Detox in California

Fentanyl addiction drug rehab and drug detox programs in California include different options and therapy processes to help addicts and their families. The first step in treating fentanyl addiction is a medically supervised detox or medication-assisted treatment. Withdrawal symptoms are painful and difficult to manage, requiring medical supervision. Most opioid addicts have a history of opioid use and have developed a dependency that causes painful withdrawal symptoms. Drug detox is a critical first step before any counseling or therapy occurs. Effective counseling options for fentanyl addiction include behavioral therapies, holistic drug rehab, and even faith-based drug rehab.

Behavioral therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational interviewing, and 12-step facilitation. Individual and group therapy is also effective, and these services are provided through residential or outpatient drug rehab programs in California. Typically, the severity and extent of addiction determine what drug rehab type is needed and the length of time required to treat the drug problem. It is also critical for families to follow through with aftercare support like 12-step meetings, peer support groups, and sober living homes. Recovering from drug addiction is not easy, and it usually requires support during the initial months or even years after drug rehab. 


Family Intervention for Fentanyl Addiction in California

Someone struggling with opioid addiction is not always willing to accept help or admit they are addicted to opioids. Most families organize a professional family intervention with the help of an interventionist. Family intervention in California motivates the drug-addicted family member to accept help for their addiction. Family, friends, and a professional interventionist come together to confront the addict about their drug use and how it has impacted their life and the lives of their family. Family intervention is a carefully planned process, and the best way to organize a family intervention is by hiring a professional interventionist. In California, an estimated 45% of drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018, and this was over 2,400 deaths. Among the opioid-involved deaths in the state, the largest increase involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 60% increase in fentanyl-related deaths in California.



NIDA. “Fentanyl DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 28 Feb. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl

NIDA. “California: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/california-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms