What You Should Know About a Fentanyl Addiction
Are you worried that a friend or family member is struggling with a fentanyl addiction?
If so, you should educate yourself on the drug as much as possible to pinpoint the signs of addiction and better understand how you can intervene in the situation. Fentanyl addiction can be lethal; in fact, close to 64,000 people died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016, and this number continues to climb with each year.
Not sure what fentanyl is, or what signs of addiction to be looking for? In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about fentanyl addictions, so you can help your loved one get the medical assistance they need.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is most used as a painkiller and anesthetic. This drug is generally prescribed to opioid-tolerant patients who are undergoing surgery, or for patients who need to treat chronic pain. It boosts the level of chemical dopamine in your brain by binding to the opioid receptors in your brain.
Fentanyl, like morphine and heroin, leaves the user feeling relaxed and often times euphoric. Fentanyl, however, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and 50 times more potent than heroin. This makes fentanyl prescription abuse incredibly dangerous and leaves patients at a higher risk of addiction.
How is Fentanyl Deadly?
Fentanyl's chemical structure makes it more deadly than other opioids because it rapidly impacts your brain and body. Because this drug is so potent, many drug dealers are now mixing it with other drugs such as heroin or oxycodone, which is leaving users unaware as to what they're actually ingesting. What's scariest about this is that certain strains of fentanyl are beyond deadly; in fact, one strain of fentanyl is so deadly that you can actually die from just touching it.
Fentanyl is deadly because it binds to the opioid receptors in your brain that help control things like breathing. If you take too high a dose of fentanyl, the drug can actually stop you from being able to breathe altogether, which can kill you.
What are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction?
If you think someone you love is suffering from a fentanyl addiction, it's important to know what symptoms an addict typically exhibits. Here is a list of common symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Mood changes or irritability
- Poor balance or coordination
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Weight loss
- Visual hallucinations
- Bluish tint to nails and lips
If you've noticed a loved one is exhibiting these symptoms, it's possible that they may have a fentanyl addiction. You should also know that fentanyl abuse can be especially dangerous for people who have no tolerance to opioids. The elevated risk of overdose is increased greatly when the drug is abused by someone without a tolerance.
Effects of Long-Term Fentanyl Abuse
If someone has a long-term fentanyl abuse problem, they'll most likely experience a variety of adverse effects. These effects can be mental, physical, and even fatal. Here are some of the additional signs and symptoms of abuse to look out for.
People with a fentanyl abuse problem are prone to experiencing problems like difficulty breathing and a weakened immune system. They're also likely to experience severe gastrointestinal problems, bowel obstruction, and may even experience seizures.
The mental effects of prolonged fentanyl abuse can greatly damage the addict's perception of him or herself as well as their relationship with others. Mental side effects of opioid abuse include paranoia, lack of motivation, social withdrawal. It can even lead to overall delusions and personality changes.
Fentanyl can be a lethal drug, especially when paired with other drugs such as heroin. These drugs can depress your central nervous system, which can lead to respiratory distress, a coma, and even death.
Other Important Things to Know About Fentanyl
If you're dealing with a loved one who has a fentanyl problem, you should know that this drug is beyond dangerous for more than just the user. This drug is dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it, as it can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. Many people will experience the general side effects listed above just by coming in contact with it.
Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
The effects of opioid abuse like fentanyl can be deadly, so it's important to encourage the addict to receive treatment as soon as you know about the problem. The good thing is that there are treatment options available for fentanyl addicts, and many programs that operate on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Most of these programs involve the following steps:
- Medical detox from fentanyl
- Individual or group therapy
- 12-step recovery program
- Sober living program
You should know that detoxing from fentanyl isn't easy. Those who do often report experiencing the following effects of withdrawal:
- Loss of appetite
- Fevers and chills
- Intense drug cravings
It's hard to quit fentanyl cold turkey, especially when you consider the intense side effects of withdrawal and how painful they can be. That's why you need to work with a qualified specialist to help your loved one get the drug out of their system and get on the path toward recovery. By doing so, you can show your family member or friend the support and love they need to begin their life-long journey to recovery.
Final Thoughts on Fentanyl Addictions
If you're worried about someone's fentanyl use, it's highly important that you check for any symptoms of abuse to make sure they haven't become hooked on the highly addictive drug. Fentanyl abuse is an incredibly serious problem, and if abused or mistreated, can lead to horrific consequences, and even cause death. By keeping in mind the information outlined in this article, you can better identify the signs of fentanyl addiction, and help your loved one get the support they need to get over their addiction.
Are you struggling to help a loved one with an opioid problem? Not sure where to start? Contact us to learn more about rehab and intervention options.