What is Fentanyl?
Table of Contents
- What is Fentanyl?
- How Does Fentanyl Interact With the Body?
- How Does Someone Develop A Fentanyl Addiction?
- Fentanyl Addiction Symptoms
- Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
- What Are The Severe Signs of Fentanyl Addiction?
- Methods of Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
- Finding Fentanyl Treatment Options That Work for You
- Medically Reviewed By
Being reported 80-100 times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that was originally used as an analgesic used to treat patients with severe pain. This drug was most commonly administered by doctors to cancer patients in the form of fentanyl patches, which could be applied to the skin.
However, as safer and less addictive medications have become available, it is rarely used for pain in hospital settings. This is predominantly due to the fact that, when misused, this drug can be incredibly dangerous.
Keep reading to find out about the signs of fentanyl addiction and the forms of assistance available!
What Does Fentanyl Look Like?
Unfortunately, synthetic fentanyl can come in many different forms, oftentimes disguised as other opioids. In many cases, drug dealers will use fentanyl as an additive to make other opioid drugs more potent.
Because of how often individuals buy this opioid unknowingly, individuals may find themselves facing accidental fentanyl overdoses as well as other negative consequences. Click here to read more on why fentanyl is behind many drug overdoses.
How Does Fentanyl Interact With the Body?
As a pain reliever for chronic pain, fentanyl binds with opioid receptors, which are found in the parts of the brain that affect pain and emotions. This particular drug is incredibly fast-acting, and even the smallest amount can cause a significant reaction.
Sadly, this also means this particular substance comes with a higher risk of accidentally taking too much. Fentanyl serves as one of the leading drugs responsible for overdose deaths in the United States.
How Does Someone Develop A Fentanyl Addiction?
Because of how similar fentanyl looks to other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, this particular synthetic opioid is being increasingly mixed in with these substances and sold to unassuming consumers.
For many individuals who are addicted to this drug, their substance abuse problems originated from accidental fentanyl use. Although this is the case, even prescription fentanyl has addiction risk factors associated with it.
Because of the increased risk of abuse that comes with any opioid, they are typically only administered to cancer patients with severe symptoms; and even in these cases, they are usually only used for young adults.
In rare circumstances such as these, the prescription will likely be relatively low and not intended for long-time usage. In the event that a patient begins to present addiction signs to prescription opioids, other treatment options will likely be administered in this substance’s place.
Furthermore, because this substance is so potent, it typically does not take long for individuals to begin abusing fentanyl. Intense cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms can make it extremely difficult to stop usage once addicted to fentanyl.
Fentanyl Addiction Symptoms
Because opioid use can very easily become deadly, it is crucial for individuals to know how to recognize the signs of this form of drug abuse. There are several signs of fentanyl abuse that individuals can look out for, whether this is for themselves or a loved one. The symptoms of fentanyl addiction may include:
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle stiffness
- Slowed/altered heart rate
- Labored breathing
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting
- Slurred speech
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching and scratching
- Pinpoint pupils
Of course, these signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse may be similar to other forms of drug or alcohol abuse. Regardless, of whether abusing fentanyl or something else, seeking immediate treatment for any substance use is always strongly encouraged.
Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
As stated before, fentanyl is a very dangerous drug and an overdose can lead to death. It’s important to be familiar with fentanyl overdose symptoms so you can recognize them quickly.
If an overdose occurs, call emergency services immediately as soon as you suspect someone may be suffering from having taken a deadly amount of the drug. The fentanyl overdose symptoms include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Weak muscles
- Extreme sleepiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Profoundly slowed heartbeat
- Very low blood pressure
- Dangerously slowed or stopped breathing
- Bluish tint to nails and lips
The effects that a Fentanyl overdose can have on the user’s heart rate and breathing present the greatest risk of death and permanent damage. Even if an individual survives a Fentanyl overdose, the side effects may result in lasting negative effects on a person’s body.
One example of this is respiratory depression, which can lead to hypoxia and can cause permanent brain damage.
What Are The Severe Signs of Fentanyl Addiction?
When it comes to prolonged fentanyl use, more serious side effects may begin to appear. These can include serious physical, mental, and behavioral manifestations that could result in permanent damage to the individuals.
Physical Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
When it comes to the physical implications of this substance’s long-term usage, the more severe signs of fentanyl abuse may include the following symptoms:
- Severe gastrointestinal problems including bowel obstruction and perforation
- Weakened immune system
- Difficulty breathing
- Withdrawal symptoms occur when fentanyl use stops or the usual dosage is decreased
Mental Symptoms of Fentanyl Dependence
When it comes to substance abuse, it is not uncommon for mental health issues to develop or worsen as a result. For individuals who abuse fentanyl over long periods of time, the following mental effects may occur:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of motivation
- Delusions and personality changes
Behavioral Symptoms of Chronic Fentanyl Use
There are several symptoms of fentanyl abuse that may manifest behaviorally, especially when used extensively or habitually. These signs and symptoms may include:
- A desire to stop taking the drug is overruled by an inability to control addictive behaviors.
- A need to increase a usual dosage in order to feel consistent effects, or to feel normal.
- Being willing to resort to illegal activities or desperate measures to obtain the drug.
- Withdrawal from social activities and loved ones.
- Continued usage of fentanyl despite the fact it is causing various problems.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
There are several symptoms associated with fentanyl withdrawal, which can range from moderate to severe in nature. Some of these may include:
- Runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting
- Anorexia, nutritional deficiencies
- Increased or abnormal heart rate
- Respiratory complications
Methods of Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
Despite the fact that Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug, addiction to this substance is treatable. Most forms of drug abuse treatment will focus on first helping individuals to fight through the initial period of intense cravings for and withdrawal symptoms from an abused substance.
However, when it comes to opioid withdrawal symptoms, overcoming this particular form of substance abuse can be fatal if not managed correctly. The first step in the fentanyl addiction treatment process is to undergo medical detox.
Medical detox will allow an individual to safely process and get through opioid withdrawals. Once this has been successfully completed, this will typically be followed by their participation in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Addiction causes changes within the brains and behaviors of individuals, especially with strong substances like fentanyl and other opioids.The type of program that will best serve an individual will usually vary based on the severity of their addiction, history of substance abuse, and personal circumstances.
The treatment programs which show the best results are often those with a combination of behavioral therapies and pharmacological therapies. The combination of providing an individual with both opioid medications and behavioral assistance allows them to function and learn without the intense withdrawals hindering them.
Overall, it is important to provide treatment options to individuals looking to receive treatment. This will allow all individuals in need of assistance with substance abuse issues to receive the care and support they need to overcome it.
Medically Supervised Drug Detox
Because opioid withdrawal can be deadly, it is essential that individuals attempting to stop the usage of these substances do so gradually, and under medical supervision. To treat fentanyl addiction, it is important for an individual to remove the substance from their body first.
Individuals will most likely be administered controlled medications that can help prevent or manage the side effects of decreased access to fentanyl. This will allow their bodies to maintain their functions despite the lack of fentanyl.
Without having medications to support proper bodily functions, an individual may face drastic health complications that may even end in death. It is important for an individual experiencing fentanyl and other opioid withdrawals to receive a medical detox to safely remove the substance from their system.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment Programs
Inpatient, or residential treatment programs, are a form of addiction treatment in which clients live at a rehabilitation center for a period of 30-90 days. This program can run for longer depending on the needs of an individual.
Upon choosing a treatment center in which they will undergo rehab, clients will usually have access to several recovery services and resources, including:
- Individual and group counseling
- Nutritional counseling
- Structured physical activities
- Vocational training
- Social skill training
- Relapse prevention support
- Educational services
Outpatient Programs for Addiction
Outpatient treatment programs allow for a more flexible recovery approach, in which individuals are not required to live at a treatment center. Outpatient care tends to be more affordable compared to residential programs, and is best suited for those with dependent family members at home, or other time obligations.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
When it comes to substance abuse, it is not uncommon for individuals to have co-occurring mental health conditions that may be further fueling their addiction habits. Whether in the case of alcohol or drug use, underlying mental health struggles can often lead people to attempt to self-medicate with these substances.
For individuals who are struggling with simultaneous disorders, seeking out addiction treatment options that specialize in treating both the addiction itself and the underlying issues that may be causing these habits is strongly recommended.
Check out our page on Dual Diagnosis Treatment to learn more about treating substance abuse and mental disorders together.
Finding Fentanyl Treatment Options That Work for You
If you or a loved one is struggling with abuse, whether it be from a fentanyl addiction or any other form of substance use, we are here to help. Here at Find Addiction Rehab, our team is dedicated to helping you find effective addiction recovery resources.
Whether finding a treatment center in your location or connecting you with recovery tools and resources, our hotline is available 24/7 to make sure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.
Trying to overcome opioid addiction, let alone fentanyl addiction, is immensely difficult, especially when trying to manage it alone. Call us today and we can help find the right treatment that fits you!
Bryan was born in Philadelphia and remains an ardent supporter of Philadelphia sports. After attending FSU and FAU where he majored in writing, Bryan ventured out to follow in the footsteps of his idols, running straight into drug addiction. After being arrested by the President’s Secret Service, Bryan finally started to rebuild his life and beat that monkey off of his back through writing, playing music, and studying Buddhist philosophy.
Despite still having the occasional struggles with mental health, Bryan strives to be a little bit better a person each day. With the support and love from a loyal family, and kind-hearted and generous friends, Bryan tries to help people vanquish their own personal demons as he did and bring more love and beauty into a pessimistic world.