Fentanyl is a potent opioid that is usually prescribed to people who are experiencing breakthrough pain that cannot be relieved by morphine or other less powerful analgesic medications. Fentanyl’s strength is estimated to be around 50 times greater than that of morphine.
This characteristic significantly increases its effectiveness but also escalates the dangers of using this drug in any way except as prescribed by a doctor. In addition to pain relief, fentanyl induces feelings of relaxation and euphoria, which makes this drug a tempting option for those who are in search of an intense high.
Regardless of whether a person abuses fentanyl as a means of self-medication or for mostly recreational purposes, the dangers remain the same. Possible adverse outcomes include long-term health problems, the development of addiction, and sudden death due to overdose.
Where Does Fentanyl Come From?
Much of the abuse of fentanyl and its synthetic derivatives involves illicitly produced drugs, rather than as a product of the diversion of prescription drugs. These drugs are usually produced in China and then trafficked into the U.S. through Mexican drug cartels or the Internet.
Unfortunately, abuse can occur accidentally, as fentanyl is commonly mixed into heroin and other illegal drugs to increase potency and maximize dealer profits. Regardless of where the fentanyl drug came from or how it is abused, anyone who uses fentanyl or it’s synthetic derivatives is in grave, life-threatening danger and needs professional treatment immediately.
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
A person who has been abusing fentanyl or a synthetic derivative may exhibit many signs and symptoms, including the following:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Social isolation
- No longer engaging in activities that were previously considered enjoyable
- Being deceptive and secretive
- Participating in risky, reckless, or dangerous behaviors
- Shallow, slow, or labored breathing
- Reduced heart rate
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Confusion or disorientation
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Impaired judgment
- Mood swings
- Euphoria (feelings of well-being)
- Dysphoria (feelings of unease or dissatisfaction with life)
Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
People who fail to receive treatment for an addiction to fentanyl or a synthetic derivative faces a significant risk for a variety of adverse effects and outcomes, such as the following:
- Significant physical and mental health problems
- Accidents and injuries due to impaired motor functioning and poor decision-making
- Failed or strained interpersonal relationships
- Poor performance in school or at work
- Inability to find work or maintain a job
- Financial problems
- An overwhelming sense of hopelessness/despair
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Arrest and incarceration
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
Discontinuing the use of a fentanyl drug or a synthetic derivative once a physiological dependence on these drugs has set in can induce several unpleasant or painful withdrawal symptoms.
Potential fentanyl drug withdrawal symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Intense fentanyl drug cravings
- Watery eyes (lacrimation)
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Psychomotor agitation
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramping
- Muscle and bone pain
Consuming fentanyl or a synthetic derivative in an amount that undermines the body’s ability to effectively metabolize and eliminate it can result in several dire outcomes. Any person who exhibits one or more of the following symptoms after abusing fentanyl or a synthetic derivative should seek immediate medical attention:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Reduced heart rate
- Respiratory distress
- Loss of motor coordination
- Confusion and disorientation
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of consciousness
An overdose of fentanyl is life-threatening. If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms, please call 911 immediately. If you trained to use Narcan, the anti-overdose drug, and have it available, administer it as soon as possible.
Treatment for Fentanyl Drug Abuse
At Harmony Treatment and Wellness, we strive to inspire hope in each client’s ability to reclaim their lives from the powerful grip of substance abuse by wielding both compassion and expertise in the field of substance abuse and addiction.
Our staff evaluates and treats the many factors that have contributed to our client’s desire to abuse fentanyl. We work to ensure that any other psychiatric concerns are recognized and that those who seek our help receive the full spectrum of services they so direly need to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
We aim to ensure that each person we treat will develop the skills and confidence needed to overcome the addictive thought processes and behaviors that have prevented them from living healthy lives.
Through individualized treatment planning and employing evidence-based approaches, every client will receive the tools and support they need to conquer their addiction and begin to live happy and satisfying lives. Contact us today and discover how we can help you start your journey to long-lasting wellness and sobriety!