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Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Use, Abuse, Addiction & Facts

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a highly addictive opiate drug that is used primarily in surgical situations to help with “breakthrough” (severe) pain during and after the operations.

The drug is a synthetic drug that mimics other opiates –  blocking the brain’s ability to perceive pain, creating a “downer effect” on the user, which induces a state of relaxation and euphoria. Because fentanyl is so powerful, it has a high potential for addiction and abuse. However, the high is short-lived, making it easier for recreational users to overdose.

Fentanyl is Shockingly Potent

Fentanyl is up to 100 times as potent as morphine, and over 50 times as potent as pure pharmaceutical grade heroin.

Fentanyl is increasingly being manufactured in home labs (like meth is) and is sold on the street to users who are hooked on heroin.  In California, this resulted in dozens of overdoses in just a few weeks in early 2016. Keep in mind that these users were typically already accustomed to injecting heroin – which is typically considered the highest risk of overdose. it is not clear if this rash of overdoses is a result of confusion about whether the fentanyl was heroin or if it was a “bad batch” of heroin.

But the upshot is the same: because fentanyl is much more powerful than heroin, it’s much easier to overdose on it. Extreme caution should be used and extreme action taken if someone you love is using fentanyl.

Fentanyl is also known as:

Typically fentanyl is called fentanyl as it is a very high profile substance due to it’s potency.  Here are some of the brand names of medications that contain fentanyl:

  • Actiq
  • Durogesic or Doragesic
  • Fentora
  • Matrifen
  • Haldid
  • Onsolis
  • Instanyl
  • Abstrat
  • Lazanda

How is Fentanyl Ingested or Used?

Fentanyl comes in the form of a pain patch or sometimes a lollipop containing the medication. It can also be injected, which is the most dangerous way for recreational users to use the drug.

What are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Use?

Friends and family of a fentanyl user may be able to notice changes in their loved one when they’re high, and the symptoms are similar to those for all opioid. A fentanyl user under the influence will be short of breath, and have small, constricted pupils when they’re under the influence. They may also appear disoriented. The user be incoherent, seeming completely awake at one moment and passing out, or “nodding off the next.  Somebody who is high on fentanyl may appear “heavy” when high, unable to even lift his or her head.

A fentanyl user who injects the drug will also keep paraphernalia to use the drug around. There may be needles or syringes around with no medical purposes. You may notice burned silver spoons or bags with a white powdery residue.

What Are the Long-Term Effects and Dangers of Fentanyl Use?

Fentanyl is a dangerous narcotic drug that can cause death every time it’s used. Because of its incredible potency,  there is a very serious danger of overdose. Users who inject the drug run a risk of drug overdose or HIV/AIDs from re-used needles. They are also likely to suffer from bacterial or staph infections from unsanitary conditions and poor nutrition.

Habitual opiate abusers are at risk for poor health in general. They may have frequent skin infections, infections of the heart and heart-related illnesses. When in withdrawal or even when under the influence, they may have seizures.

Long-term users may suffer from chronic pneumonia, pulmonary diseases, and liver disease, blood clots or tissue death resulting from collapsed veins.

Transition to Heroin

The most alarming risk (beyond fatal overdose) is the possibility that the abuser of fentanyl will transition to other drugs, including street heroin.  This process happens every day throughout the United States, frequently in some very affluent areas.  This occurrence speaks to how truly addictive fentanyl is.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Dependency/Addiction

Fentanyl users can become addicted fairly quickly the drug because of its powerful ability to kill pain and resulting euphoria.

An addict will have many changes in their life and behavior that you may recognize. Among these is continued drug-seeking behavior that causes problems in their daily life. They may lie to doctors to try and get a prescription or steal to get the money to buy the drug on the street.

Users who inject the drug may wear long sleeves in hot weather to hide needle marks. They may get sick a lot, or get skin or heart infections. You may notice that a fentanyl user has rapidly lost weight and appears pale or sickly.

Somebody who is addicted to opiates will eventually have financial problems, legal problems,  and trouble keeping a job. Their drug use will also cause dramatic behavior changes, such as poor hygiene or a change in their friends. They may seem to have lost motivation and interest in future goals. They may lie to their family and friends and start hanging out with a “new crowd” that they seem to have little in common with. They may seek out other, similar opiates, such as heroin or morphine from illicit sources.

As a person become more dependent on fentanyl, they may lose interest in their hobbies, or become increasingly hostile to concerned family members. Side effects from fentanyl abuse and addiction can change as the disease progresses.

What are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal?

Fentanyl addicts often feel compelled to continue using the drug. Known for its intense pain relieving effects, as well as intense withdrawal symptoms, fentanyl users often fear quitting the drug.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can start a few hours to one day after sustained use of the drug stops. Withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, sweating profusely, muscle aches, bone aches and intense cramping that causes the user to kick their legs.

If you’re looking to get clean from fentanyl, you should not attempt to detox on your own. Medical supervision is necessary to make you as comfortable and safe as possible.

Withdrawal symptoms following fentanyl dependence can cause serious medical complications, and sometimes, even death.

Getting Help for Fentanyl Addiction

If you think you have a fentanyl problem, or want to know more about recovering from addiction to fentanyl and/or other drugs, we’re here to help. You can detox and recover in a safe, supportive environment that’s focused on helping you reclaim your life.

All phone calls are 100% confidential. Call us at the number above.

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