OUD, Relapse and Fentanyl
Many people can stay sober in recovery with the help of a treatment program and support system. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a particularly insidious disorder. People who need help with OUD usually benefit from detox, treatment, and sometimes Medication-Assisted Treatment. Relapse among opioid users is common, sadly. But relapse can also be part of a success story, too. Getting back up and staying in recovery is an option.
People with OUD get sober and start their recovery journey every day. For those new to recovery, relapse can still be an issue. Fentanyl poses serious challenges for people who may relapse.
Opioid Use Disorder and Fentanyl
Opioid use disorder is a disorder of the brain. When the brain is deprived of opioids, a person who uses them will experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms. People with access to Medication-Assisted Treatment typically experience minimal symptoms, making their sobriety success rates higher.
People with opioid use disorder often use different opioids, ranging from heroin to morphine. Fentanyl, however, is a drug that is more dangerous than morphine. It can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and has a high overdose fatality rate.
Opioids are dangerous enough because they are so addictive. When people use one dosage for a period, they grow tolerance and need more drugs to get the same effects. With fentanyl, this can mean certain death. Fentanyl is responsible for up to 80% of opioid overdose deaths. Much of it is made by drug dealers in a garage or lab, and there are no quality or safety checks.
People who use other drugs may still end up using fentanyl. The DEA has said that 26% of trafficked pills, often purported to be something else, contain a deadly amount of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a dangerous narcotic, and an opioid-naïve user can accidentally overdose when digesting even a tiny amount.
Fentanyl and Other Opioid Use
Many people with opioid use disorder start taking drugs like Oxycontin and later take morphine or heroin as their supply dwindles. The pandemic also caused supply chain issues for the world of illegal narcotics. Because of this, people who were addicted to one type of opioid sometimes had to settle for another drug that they may not have been familiar with.
For many people who are addicted to opioids, it’s challenging to quit. If a person who uses Percocet or another less potent opioid switches to fentanyl suddenly, their body may not be able to handle it. Fentanyl, when mixed with other drugs, can also have an exaggerated effect. In both cases, a person’s breathing and pulse may slow. If they stop breathing, they will die.
Narcan, an opioid-overdose reversal drug, is an essential tool that can save lives. People who have ingested deadly amounts of fentanyl often need multiple canisters of the drug to help reverse an overdose. They also need to be monitored in the hospital.
Relapse, Opioid Use Disorder, and Fentanyl Dangers
Relapse is often a part of a person’s recovery journey. That’s only true, however, if the addicted person is lucky enough to make it back to recovery. People who relapse on drugs have higher overdose death rates. It’s not always an easy journey back to sobriety for some people.
People who overdose on drugs often try to go back to the amount of drugs they were doing when they got sober. However, when the drug a person is using is an opioid, this can be a deadly lapse in judgment. This is true for people who use other drugs, such as cocaine, that can also be spiked with deadly fentanyl.
Many people in the US who use drugs remain unaware of the dangers of fentanyl-tainted drugs. As a result, it’s becoming a danger to anyone who uses drugs recreationally or buys them from illicit sources. More education and prevention efforts are needed from a public health perspective.
Sober Living Can Help You Stay on Track
Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of anyone’s recovery journey. Building a solid support network and learning the foundations of the 12-step program can help you stay sober, a day at a time. Sober living homes help add structure and give independence in early recovery. Learn more about our sober living programs by calling 760-216-2077.
Relapse is common for people early in recovery. Emotions are raw, new feelings and experiences may be intimidating, and some triggers may make people feel like using. It’s well known that addiction is common among people who have experienced trauma. When this trauma, such as early childhood abuse or sexual assault, goes unaddressed, it causes a wound that can affect a person’s entire life.
Unaddressed trauma is a well-known relapse trigger for people who struggle with a substance use disorder. It’s common for people in early recovery to have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or even PTSD when they get sober. Research shows that people who have been diagnosed with PTSD are more likely to relapse when they experience symptoms of the disorder.
Why Is Trauma A Relapse Trigger?
When you have experienced trauma, either in your childhood or as an adult, you probably adapted your life to survive. Some people shut down and go numb in the face of anxiety, while others self-medicate to make themselves feel numb. The emotions, physical sensations, and even dreams surrounding the trauma can make a person feel like they are reliving it repeatedly.
Newcomers to recovery feel a roller coaster of emotions during and after detox. These emotions may be related to things that happened today or long ago. Trauma, hurt, and shame often rears their head in people who live with PTSD. Angry and frightened outbursts can also occur occasionally when people feel like they’re in the grip of a traumatic situation again.
The intense emotions surrounding trauma can make a person want to do anything to escape their feelings, quickly leading to using their drug of choice again.
Working On Understanding Trauma
Trauma is something that people in the addiction profession watch for in addicted persons. Therapy, medication, if needed, and self-care are all important ways to begin healing from the pain of past trauma. In treatment and therapy, you will start new relationships and practice trusting yourself and others again.
Being reminded of trauma may make you feel shameful or afraid. Trauma is nothing to be ashamed of; if somebody hurt you or something happened to you, it’s not your fault. Acknowledging the pain and hurt is essential to recovery. Shame is a normal reaction, but as you will learn, feelings aren’t facts.
In recovery, you will learn to love yourself and feel comfortable in your skin again. Healing from the trauma of the past takes time and willingness. Treatment can offer a safe space for you to begin the healing journey. The journey starts with deciding to stay clean.
Staying clean will mean learning to love yourself again and working on healing your self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Working through the trauma will help you understand how it affects you today. If you need help getting help for your trauma, reach out and ask.
Sober Living Options
Trauma-informed therapy and recovery can help you thrive even when you feel your past traumas are overwhelming.
Recovery is available to everyone! Sober living offers a safe, structured environment to continue your healing journey and focus on recovery. Learn more about what we offer by calling us at 760-216-2077.
Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder, is a disease that can be insidious and powerful. For many people, relapse is a part of their recovery journey. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The symptoms of relapse are not usually so apparent to people who suffer from it, and it takes a lot of work for a previously addicted person to get and stay clean. Living with everyday stress is a fact of life. People in recovery must find new coping skills and behaviors to help them avoid using drugs and alcohol again. But sometimes, old behavior patterns start to appear in life slowly but surely.
Relapse Warning Signs
When a person starts to enter the relapse process, there’s enough time for recognition that they need to change their behavior. Here are some of the warning signs that somebody is heading towards a relapse:
- They stop following their recovery program. That means they don’t do the things they’ve been doing to help them stay clean. For example, no longer calling a sponsor or going to 12-step meetings.
- They’re complacent and not motivated to do things that help their recovery.
- They’re negative about almost everything and unwilling to try to recover their positivity.
- Not working on themselves. A person doesn’t recover by getting clean alone – there’s work to be done.
- Giving into relapse triggers, such as hanging out with using friends, visiting places dangerous to recovery, or other unhealthy behaviors.
- Feeling like their emotions are out of control. Everyone in recovery copes with various feelings, but if you’re not working your program, emotions can overwhelm and cause a desire to use.
- Holding resentments. Anger is natural, but bitterness can consume you until you’re confused and full of rage. Don’t let it take over your life. Talk to somebody about your feelings.
- Keeping secrets. Secrets can cause guilt, pain, and shame when you’re in recovery. If you’ve done something you think should remain a secret, be transparent – tell your support network.
These are just a few things that can lead to relapse. The most significant message is that if you’re feeling bad, engaging in behavior that makes you feel bad, or otherwise feel “off,” hightail it to a meeting or call your sponsor. Nobody is perfect, but that’s not a reason to use.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination, and that’s good news. So do your best to stay the course and make sure you use the support that’s available to you.
Support Prevents Relapse
If you relapse, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Relapse is a part of many peoples’ stories – but it doesn’t have to be.
Find a stable support system and live with people who understand and support your recovery.
Learn more about sober housing options through our directory or call us at 760-216-2077. We’re happy to answer any questions.
As society realizes that alcoholism and addiction is an epidemic, more efforts to attend them locally such as these will be a sign of care and acceptance that an illness is not discriminating of socioeconomic conditions nor geography. Thank you Vineyard House.