Fentanyl Addiction Treatment in California

The California Department of Health (CDPH) is dedicated to raising awareness of fentanyl and opioid overdose prevention to combat stigma and safeguard the lives of Californians. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, plays a significant role in drug overdose fatalities. California witnessed close to 6,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in the year 2021. However, in the annals of the fentanyl crisis, 2023 could go down as the year when Americans finally acknowledged a grave danger ravaging their communities, leading to a growing rift in societal perspectives on how to address it.

For the first instance in American history, the number of fatal overdoses surged past 112,000, disproportionately affecting the youth and individuals from minority communities. Experts in drug policy, along with individuals battling addiction, argue that the scale of this crisis now surpasses all past drug epidemics, including the crack cocaine outbreak in the 1980s and the prescription opioid epidemic of the 2000s.

Fentanyl addiction has rapidly become a concerning epidemic in the United States, and California is no exception. With its potent and highly addictive properties, this synthetic opioid has taken hold of many lives throughout the state. However, there is hope for those struggling with fentanyl addiction.

At Laguna Shores Recovery in Dana Point, California, we provide programs for drug and alcohol addiction including fentanyl addiction treatment services. This includes fentanyl addiction treatment options for those seeking recovery.

At our Orange County rehab, we can help you and your family find healing. One of the largest growing issues in the United States is the opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is a popular opioid due to the feelings of euphoria that comes with taking it. We can help those who are struggling with addiction and are ready to change their life for the better.

heroin rehab centerFentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. When used as directed, pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl can effectively manage severe pain. Nevertheless, misuse of fentanyl, whether through illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) or otherwise, can result in addiction and overdose. A growing number of Americans are abusing fentanyl, and tragically dying as a result.

The potential for fatal overdoses caused by fentanyl misuse is a major concern. Even small doses of this drug can be deadly due to its high potency, and accidental overdoses are a real risk. Furthermore, the situation is exacerbated by the growing trend of mixing fentanyl with other substances like heroin or cocaine, which increases its lethality. The alarming increase in fentanyl-related overdoses underscores the urgent need for effective measures to address the opioid epidemic. This includes expanding access to addiction treatment programs, implementing stricter regulations for prescription opioids, and enhancing education on the safe use of medications.

Fentanyl stands out as one of the most dangerous opioids currently being abused, and its devastating impact on individuals and communities cannot be emphasized enough. We must continue to raise awareness about this lethal drug and provide assistance to those in need through our opioid treatment program in California.


How Does Fentanyl Affect the Brain and Body?

Like heroin, morphine, and other types of opioids, fentanyl functions by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain that regulate pain and emotions. When fentanyl attaches to these opioid receptors, dopamine levels rise in the brain’s reward regions, resulting in sensations of euphoria and relaxation.  Fentanyl is a popular opioid due to the feelings of euphoria that comes with taking it. Nevertheless, fentanyl rapidly develops a tolerance, necessitating a higher dosage of the drug to achieve that euphoric sensation. Once within the user’s system, the adverse effects are challenging to halt, resulting in:

  1. Intense cravings: Individuals addicted to fentanyl experience both psychological and physiological dependence. They struggle to focus on anything other than the drug, making it difficult for them to eat, sleep, or carry out daily tasks without being under the influence.
  2. An urge to consume: With time, users develop a physical compulsion that drives them to succumb to their urges and use fentanyl, despite the havoc the drug wreaks on their lives. Quitting becomes unattainable, despite a strong desire to recover and lead a sober life.
  3. Loss of self-control: Addicts consume larger quantities each day. Their tolerance increases to the extent that they are no longer able to chase the euphoria, but instead use it to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

As with other opioid drugs, fentanyl binds to the receptors in the brain that affect pain and emotion. This causes feelings of well-being (euphoria) and relaxation and relieves pain.

Fentanyl affects people differently, depending on an individual’s size and overall health condition.

The effects are also dependent on:

  • The amount a person takes
  • Whether the person takes it in combination with other drugs
  • Whether the person is used to taking opioids

Over time, however, the brain adapts to fentanyl, making it difficult for someone to experience positive emotions without the drug. This can lead to addiction.

We are all born with opioid receptors scattered across the cells in our brains. When individuals consume fentanyl, the medication firmly attaches to these receptors, leading to a series of chemical and emotional transformations. Opioids stimulate the brain to release excessive amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating emotions and pleasure. As a result of this surge in dopamine, some individuals may experience euphoria. However, the brain cells are not designed to handle such overwhelming levels of dopamine.

Continuous exposure causes them to readjust, resulting in a reduced natural release of dopamine. Over time, individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) produce significantly less dopamine without the influence of drugs, which can lead to profound feelings of depression. Fentanyl also binds to specialized proteins on the surfaces of brain cells, initiating the same processes that occur naturally in response to a pleasurable event, such as winning an award. Even a single dose can create an unforgettable experience due to this alteration, driving individuals to seek repetition because of the rewarding sensation it provides.

Opioid receptors in the brain can impact more than just your mood. Significant changes to these receptors can potentially lead to life-threatening situations. Alterations to opioid receptors can result in a decrease in your respiration rate, causing you to breathe at a dangerously slow pace, which can be detrimental to the vital tissues in your body.

As a result, your critical systems may gradually shut down, and although you may appear to be sleeping, you could be experiencing an overdose. In the year 2021, over 107,000 individuals in the United States lost their lives due to drug overdoses, with approximately 67% of these deaths involving drugs such as fentanyl. This potent substance induces such profound chemical changes within your brain that it can lead to loss of life within minutes. Naloxone serves as a potent remedy for overdoses. Administering a single dose of naloxone displaces opioids from their receptors, rendering them inactive.

Researchers have found that it can restore normal breathing within approximately three minutes of administration. Given the strength of fentanyl, some individuals may require multiple doses of naloxone to recover from an overdose. However, it can prevent the loss of life resulting from fentanyl misuse. Experiencing an overdose is a significant consequence of misusing fentanyl. However, it is not the only issue one may encounter. Prolonged use of this drug can profoundly alter the cells in your brain, making it incredibly challenging to quit.

The chemical imbalances caused by fentanyl do not simply vanish upon quitting. Your brain cells require time to function properly without the influence of drugs, and in some cases, they may require additional assistance. Medications like Suboxone also bind to opioid receptors, but their weak attachment does not induce euphoria. These medications can assist individuals in experiencing fewer withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids, and they can create a sense of calmness that allows for focused therapy.

Some individuals may take these medications for months, while others may require them indefinitely. Experts state that relapse after quitting is not uncommon. However, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs can help reduce the risk of harmful relapses associated with fentanyl misuse.

Fentanyl, a potent drug, binds to receptors located deep within the brain. Once it enters the brain, individuals experience a noticeable alteration in their mood and emotions. Although some individuals may find the effects of fentanyl enjoyable, these alterations are detrimental to both the brain and the body.

Alternatively, chronic use of the drug could induce changes in the brain and body that hinder the ability to cope with daily life.  A single dose is so powerful that it could lead to death, which is what is occurring so often today. Especially when mixed with other drugs or disguised, fentanyl overdose and related deaths have unfortunately become the norm.

Due to its strength, even a small quantity of fentanyl has the potential to be fatal. A mere two milligrams can lead to an overdose or fatality. This substance is highly potent and has addictive properties. Fentanyl is odorless and tasteless, which makes it extremely difficult to detect whether drugs are mixed with or contaminated by the opioid unless using specific fentanyl test strips.

Doctors can test a person’s bloodstream for the presence of opiates. They can also test for the presence of other drugs, such as methamphetamines and benzodiazepines. It is widely believed that fentanyl cannot be easily absorbed through the skin, and therefore, it is not possible to overdose on fentanyl by simply touching a doorknob or dollar bill. This misconception makes it safe to assist individuals who have overdosed on fentanyl.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

  • Appearing very slowed and lethargic, sometimes suddenly. This may look like heavy limbs and not speaking clearly.
  • Withdrawal symptoms first thing in the morning. This can include nausea, shaking, confusion, and muscle aches.
  • Taking a medication other than as prescribed, such as taking larger amounts of it or crushing and snorting it instead of using it in a pill form.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors to get more fentanyl, such as stealing money from friends and family, stealing prescriptions, or “doctor shopping” to try and get more fentanyl.
  • Becoming more and more secretive with one’s actions and activities.
  • Experiencing changes in appearance, such as losing weight or appearing more unkempt than usual.

Be Brave. Get Help.

We know what it’s like to have a new chance at life. We want you to feel that, too.

Side Effects Of Opioid Addiction

Signs and symptoms of using fentanyl include medically or illicitly, including:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Retention of urine
  • Suppression of breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Itching or hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Headache
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Hallucinations
  • Shaking
  • Overdose

Addiction happens over time. The full physical dependence on a drug requires repeated drug abuse, which results in deteriorating health, including:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Abscesses (swollen tissue with pus)
  • Infection of the lining & valves of the heart
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation & stomach cramps
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Death

Doctors prescribe this type of drug as a pain reliever. Because it is so strong, they often prescribe it for severe pain, such as when recovering from surgery, an accident, or when a person is being treated for cancer. However, it does have euphoric effects that cause a person to feel high when they take it. The medication is also addictive because the brain becomes accustomed to having it present and starts to “crave” more of the drug to achieve the same high.

In addition to strong cravings and losing control over how much fentanyl a person takes, other signs of addiction include experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can occur when withdrawing from fentanyl, whether it has been used legally or illegally.

Some opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Problems sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncontrolled leg movements

Overdosing on fentanyl can result in severe and potentially life-threatening consequences. The lack of oxygen reaching the brain due to slowed or stopped breathing can lead to hypoxia, coma, brain damage, or even death. Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, making it a crucial medical intervention in such cases. Illegally produced fentanyl is a major contributor to opioid overdose fatalities. Moreover, other illicit substances and fake pills are increasingly being mixed with fentanyl. Recent data shows that stimulants will be the most prevalent drug category involved in fentanyl-related overdoses across all United States by 2021.

While some individuals may unknowingly use multiple substances containing fentanyl, research indicates that the intentional combination of stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine with fentanyl is becoming more common. Symptoms of an opioid overdose, including fentanyl, may include pinpoint pupils, loss of consciousness, choking or gurgling sounds, vomiting, limpness, cold and clammy skin, and discoloration of the nails, lips, or skin. If you suspect a fentanyl overdose in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately, administer naloxone if available, ensure the person remains conscious and breathing, lay them on their side, and stay with them until emergency help arrives.

A person experiencing an overdose may be unresponsive and breathing very slowly or very shallow. They may have a blue tinge to their lips, fingertips, or inside of the mouth because there isn’t enough oxygen getting to tissues.

If a person suspects someone may have overdosed, they should first call 911. Ideally, emergency rescue personnel can reach the person before their hypoxia is too prolonged and they experience permanent brain damage. Emergency rescue personnel can administer a medication called naloxone (Narcan) in cases of overdose on fentanyl and other opioids. This medication essentially knocks fentanyl off the opioid receptors, which reverses the effects of the drug.

Many states have passed laws allowing people to get naloxone from a pharmacist without a prescription. It can be a good idea to have naloxone or Narcan if a loved one takes or is addicted to fentanyl or other opiates. Pharmacies can dispense Narcan as a nasal spray (sold as NARCAN nasal spray) or injectable medication, which is called EVZIO.

A lot of people may think that if they give their loved one Narcan, they won’t have to call paramedics or authorities for additional help. A person who has overdosed and received Narcan still needs medical help. This is because sometimes the fentanyl dose can last longer than Narcan does in the body. As a result, a person could stop breathing again a few hours after they took the Narcan, even though they haven’t taken any more fentanyl. Also, it is a safer idea for a person to be examined by medical professionals to ensure they do not have any potentially long-lasting and reversible effects from an overdose.

No one likes to imagine that their friend or loved one could suffer from an overdose, but the truth is that overdoses happen in greater numbers every day. Being prepared with a medication such as naloxone can be a life-saving one.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl addiction can be addressed through various methods, such as detoxification, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programming (IOP), and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, remember that assistance is accessible at Laguna Shores Recovery in California.

Our fentanyl addiction treatment center offers tailored programs to aid individuals in overcoming their addiction and attaining long-term recovery. At Laguna Shores, we recognize that fentanyl addiction is a multifaceted and demanding condition.

Our program integrates evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and group therapy to help individuals understand their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. We also provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Seek treatment for your fentanyl addiction from a team that genuinely cares about your well-being. Our group of skilled professionals collaborates closely with each patient to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and concerns.

Alongside our clinical methods, we offer holistic therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and equine-assisted therapy to enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout the recovery journey. Our facility offers a secure and encouraging setting for individuals to heal and recover from fentanyl addiction. Our caring staff is accessible 24/7 to offer guidance, support, and motivation as you progress towards sobriety.

The initial step in addressing fentanyl addiction is medical detoxification. Throughout this process, healthcare professionals will assist the individual in safely and gradually eliminating fentanyl from their body. This can effectively alleviate withdrawal symptoms and initiate the journey towards overcoming physical dependence on the drug.

Residential treatment entails residing at a specialized facility for a period to receive continuous care and support. Within these programs, individuals can engage in therapy sessions, acquire coping skills, and receive medical attention as they strive toward recovery.

Outpatient rehab allows individuals to attend therapy sessions and other treatments while residing at home or in a sober living environment. This option offers greater flexibility for those who are unable to take time away from work or family responsibilities.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) provide a higher level of care compared to traditional non-residential treatment. Individuals attend multiple therapy sessions each week and have access to additional support services, such as group counseling and case management.

Our medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program in California involves the utilization of medication, such as buprenorphine or methadone, in conjunction with therapy to address opioid addiction. These medications aid in reducing cravings for fentanyl and minimizing withdrawal symptoms while individuals work toward recovery.

It is imperative for individuals seeking treatment for fentanyl addiction to thoroughly evaluate their options and select the approach that best suits their needs. Treatment may also encompass ongoing support through 12-step programs or aftercare programs to maintain sobriety after completing a formal program. With appropriate treatment and support, recovery from fentanyl addiction is attainable.

Upon entering a California addiction treatment center, many patients find solace in discovering an underlying mental health issue. They are aware that with proper psychiatric care, this issue can be addressed. This realization often brings relief, as these patients may recall a sense of unmet need that initially led them to turn to drugs or alcohol. This is a common scenario for individuals struggling with social anxiety or depression. As substance abuse progresses to addiction, mental health issues tend to exacerbate.

By undergoing dual diagnosis treatment and receiving appropriate therapies or medications, these previously unaddressed mental health issues are tackled. Consequently, improved mental health can provide individuals with the strength needed to pursue sobriety. While addressing the co-occurring condition does not guarantee an effortless journey to recovery, dual diagnosis treatment sets a clearer, more stable path toward healing.

What Are Misconceptions About Fentanyl?

A common misconception about fentanyl is that because the drug is legal, it is not harmful, deadly, or addictive. It can be all three of these things. A growing number of drug-related overdoses are due to fentanyl. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is now the most common drug involved in deaths from drug overdoses in the United States.

A person can overdose on fentanyl because it affects areas in the brain that impact respiration and breathing. A person may take small, shallow breaths or not breathe at all when taking it. As a result, their brain can’t get enough oxygen. This leads to a condition known as hypoxia. A person with hypoxia can go into a coma or experience permanent brain damage. It is also possible to die from hypoxia if the condition is not recognized and quickly corrected.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths is steadily increasing. The year 2022 saw fentanyl surpass methamphetamine as the leading cause of accidental drug overdose deaths in Los Angeles County (LAC), accounting for 59% of all alcohol and other drug overdose deaths. There are specific risks associated with single exposure to fentanyl, and interventions like naloxone are available to combat fentanyl overdoses. It is crucial to focus on and understand the fentanyl crisis within the broader context of drug overdose concerns to develop strategies that can reduce the impact of fentanyl overdoses in our communities.

This report provides data on the numbers and rates of fentanyl overdose deaths, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations across different sociodemographic and geographic groups starting in 2016 when routine testing for fentanyl began among overdose deaths.

Accidental fentanyl overdose deaths surged by 1,652% from 109 in 2016 to 1,910 in 2022. Over the period from 2016 to 2021, fentanyl overdose ED visits rose by 621% from 133 to 959, while fentanyl overdose hospitalizations increased by 225% from 102 to 332 cases. Individuals aged 26-39 years exhibited the highest rates of fentanyl overdose deaths (36.5), ED visits (23.8), and hospitalizations (6.5) per 100,000 population in the most recent data year.

Be Brave. Get Help.

We know what it’s like to have a new chance at life. We want you to feel that, too.

Our Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Program Can Help You Recover

Don’t let fentanyl control your life any longer. Contact us today to learn more about our fentanyl addiction treatment program in California. You deserve a life free from the grips of addiction – let us help you get there.
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