Fentanyl is an extremely powerful narcotic, one that, if abused, acts similarly to heroin. Unfortunately, many people do abuse the drug, leading to severe addiction syndromes and overdose.
Understanding Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl was first synthesized in the 1950s and has “an analgesic potency of about 80 times that of morphine.” In many cases, it is even stronger than heroin, and when abused, can be even more likely to cause an overdose. Fentanyl is usually prescribed to cancer patients or individuals suffering from chronic pain who are already managed on weaker opioids. However, many individuals do abuse fentanyl for its extremely potent effects.
Overdoses from synthetic opioids have been on the rise in recent years, and much of this has been attributed to the production and use of illegal fentanyl. The drug itself is very potent, which could make it desirable to those who look to abuse similar drugs, but there is extreme danger in doing so, as it has some of the more intense effects associated with any prescription opioid. Abuse only worsens these effects and puts the individual in danger.
Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl causes a number of side effects, chief among them drowsiness. Like other opioids, it can cause a user to become sleepy and dizzy, but many other signs and symptoms can be spotted to help you recognize fentanyl abuse. In general, this drug will cause more intense effects than most opioid drugs when abused, including:
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Problems urinating
- Changes in vision
- Dry mouth
- Redding of the skin
- Swelling and sores
People who abuse this drug can also experience severe mood swings, going from intense euphoria to extreme depression very quickly. The drug also causes withdrawal effects in those who become dependent on it, and these are similar to the symptoms caused by other opioids, including muscle and bone pain, runny nose, and other flu-like symptoms.
Fentanyl abuse is especially dangerous because, as stated previously, it has an extremely high chance of leading to overdose. Many people who abuse the drug do not understand how intense it is, and therefore, take large doses that their bodies can’t handle. The signs of overdose include:
- Respiratory depression (slow breathing or no breathing)
- Blue hands, lips, mouth
- Extreme drowsiness
Fentanyl overdose can be deadly, so if you notice these signs and symptoms in a loved one, call 911 immediately.
A person can become addicted to fentanyl just as easily as they will to another opioid, maybe more. The biological effects associated with fentanyl abuse are indistinguishable from those of heroin, and many individuals who are addicted to heroin attempt to use the drug as a substitute when they cannot obtain their substance of choice. Still, any misuse of fentanyl is dangerous, and those who abuse it consistently will be likely to experience addiction and other serious effects.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Fentanyl addiction treatment often requires long-term care, especially when this has been the primary drug of an individual’s abuse. Fentanyl is incredibly strong, so it is likely that the user’s dependence and addiction will be as well. Often, methadone maintenance is the best choice for treatment, and the patient can be maintained on the drug for as long as necessary. Those who are suffering from additional issues, like comorbid mental disorders, should also consider seeking inpatient care.
Like with other opioid addictions, patients will begin behavioral therapy regimens to learn how to view their abuse differently and how to avoid relapse in the future. But treatment for fentanyl addiction especially can be long and involved because of the drug’s potency. It is important to seek the treatment option that will be as intensive as necessary for the patient so they can safely recover.
Seek Treatment Today
Fentanyl should never be taken in a way other than prescribed or by those who do not need it. This abuse can quickly lead to addiction because of the drug’s incredible potency. Call 800-654-0987 now to find a rehab program that will help you begin your safe recovery.