Over the past decade, opioids — like fentanyl — have ravaged communities around the country. From the regular street drug trade to an overwhelming number of prescriptions written by doctors, these substances have skyrocketed in popularity among people struggling with addiction and led to record numbers of diagnosed opioid use disorders, overdoses and deaths.
While these facts can seem intense, if you’re living with an addiction to fentanyl, it’s imperative you understand the dangers associated with the substance and the necessity to address your addiction in a safe and clinically supportive environment. Your life literally depends on it.
What Fentanyl Does to the Brain
Fentanyl acts as a depressant on your central nervous system and attaches to opioid receptors in the brain when first ingested. This is why you experience a feeling of euphoria when the high initially sets in. Your brain contains naturally producing opioid receptors, which create opioid chemicals in response to any pain you may experience. However, these naturally occurring opiates typically don’t last very long and aren’t potent enough to help with chronic pain issues. That’s why many prescription painkillers contain synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, to alleviate excessive pain.
Unfortunately, the more your brain encounters a substance like fentanyl, the less likely it is to produce natural opioids — making it increasingly difficult for you to live life without the drug and creating a dangerous necessity for you to continually ingest it.
Fentanyl’s Effects on the Brain
As the effects of your fentanyl use become increasingly more consistent, you may begin ingesting larger quantities to achieve the same high and avoid symptoms of withdrawal. Common symptoms of withdrawal can include muscle aches, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping.
However, the various ways fentanyl use impacts your brain are much more concerning and increasingly more devastating the longer you struggle with the addiction. Fentanyl’s effects on the brain (and your life) can include:
- Serious Cognitive Issues: Long-term fentanyl addiction can lead to serious cognitive decline. People who consistently abuse the substance spend a significant amount of time in a lethargic and forgetful state after using. This can result in a loss of basic personal care, like forgetting to eat, neglecting to bathe consistently and — in some cases — ignoring important financial matters. People who consistently abuse fentanyl may also use alcohol or other drugs when simultaneously ingesting the opioid. This act can dramatically increase the risk of dangerous side effects and a potentially fatal overdose.
- Severe Structural Damage: Fentanyl addiction can actually change the physical structure of your brain, throwing your neurological and hormonal systems completely out of balance. From depression to chronic fatigue and even loss of muscle mass, the way in which fentanyl use impacts your overall cognitive functioning is shocking. These neurological imbalances can cause genetic disorders, strokes, infections, seizures, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. It’s important to know that some hormonal and neurological imbalances can be repaired through sobriety.
- Deterioration of Brain Matter: Studies have found that chronic fentanyl use can lead to extensive erosion of the white matter in your brain. This deterioration of white matter can affect decision-making abilities, the capability to regulate behavior appropriately, and natural responses to stressful situations. There’s also evidence that fentanyl addiction leads to reduced gray matter in some sections of your brain, such as the frontal lobe. Gray matter in the frontal lobe is associated with things like problem solving, memory and motor function.
- Potential Death: A common cause of immediate brain damage from fentanyl use happens when your breathing slows to a dangerously low rate after use. Fentanyl addiction can stop your brain from taking in enough oxygen, causing brain cells to die and, if enough die, you’ll do the same. The fact is most individuals who lose their life to fentanyl overdoses die because they simply stop breathing. While some people are able to fully recover because they didn’t go without oxygen long enough for their brain cells to die, that lack of oxygen may severely change how their brain works. This could result in a need for life support or daily assistance from caregivers for the rest of your life.
Fentanyl Addiction Can Stop. You Can Get Clean.
We understand that we outlined some incredibly terrible consequences of fentanyl addiction, but here’s the reality of your situation: You can achieve sobriety and attain long-term health and happiness once again.
The road to recovery starts with professional assistance to properly diagnose your substance use disorder and provide you a clinically safe environment to fully detox. Addiction can be a terrifying disorder to face, but you don’t have to conquer your disease alone.
If you’ve found the courage to admit you have a problem with fentanyl use, take the next step and contact a treatment facility to help you begin your recovery journey today.
Holistic Opioid Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Wherever you may be in your addiction process, the time to begin your road to recovery is now. Don’t allow yourself to become just another statistic when your life is worth so much more. Take the brave step to face your disease and begin the process of defeating your addiction once and for all.
At Ranch Creek Recovery, we understand exactly where you are and what you’re going through. You’re arguably living the hardest, most distressing days of your life. But there’s hope and life-changing support.
Through our holistic opioid addiction treatment program, we go beyond the normal 12 steps and focus on tailoring treatment to address each patient’s unique needs. It’s about individualized treatment at Ranch Creek, and you can discover a new beginning here and help your entire family start anew.
Learn more about our all-encompassing, holistic opioid detox and addiction treatment program, or contact us today to get your questions answered.