Fentanyl is a highly potent, addictive, and powerful opioid prescribed to treat severe nerve pain. Specifically, it’s a synthetic or lab-made opioid that’s 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Due to its potency, fentanyl has a high potential for abuse and addiction. As a result, those who misuse fentanyl are likely to become physically dependent and develop an addiction. Because of this risk, it’s essential to know the signs of fentanyl abuse, especially if someone close to you is taking this medication.
What Does Fentanyl Feel Like?
Like other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors on nerve cells to block pain signals from the body. The receptors it attaches to are found in places associated with pain and pleasure, which is why it’s so effective in pain management.
However, like other opioids, fentanyl has become a dangerously powerful contributor to the opioid epidemic because of its potency. Not only does it alleviate pain, but it can also produce a sense of euphoria when used in high doses.
A fentanyl high can be described as a euphoric, relaxing, and sedative rush. This high results from the drug’s impact on neurotransmitters like dopamine, which plays a significant role in pain, pleasure, and reward.
Fentanyl activates the release of dopamine and inhibits the brain from reabsorbing the excess, flooding the central nervous system. But because opioids are also central nervous system depressants or sedatives, they also slow down activity in the central nervous system.
In people who abuse fentanyl, the risk of overdose increases for this reason. When taken in high doses, fentanyl can produce euphoria and extreme sedation, impaired judgment, confusion, and respiratory depression; the last of these is usually the most dangerous.
What Are the Signs of Fentanyl Abuse?
Fentanyl is often abused for the euphoric rush it produces. However, long-term abuse often leads to addiction, which may become more apparent as time passes.
As with other opiates, the primary fentanyl addiction symptoms include lethargy, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, and euphoria. As time passes, the individual will grow more tolerant to a particular dose of the drug.
This means that they’d have to increase their doses to experience the same effects. The more the person uses fentanyl, the more their brain and body will grow dependent on it, eventually resulting in addiction.
Fentanyl addiction can occur in anyone, whether they obtain it illegally or have a prescription. If you or someone you know is using this drug, look out for these common signs of fentanyl abuse:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Pounding in the ears
- Severe constipation
- Stomach pains
- Chest tightness
- Poor balance and coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Difficulty staying alert
- Difficulty urinating
- Vision problems
- Difficulty sleeping/ insomnia
- Loss of appetite
People who abuse fentanyl may also show some behavioral signs, such as:
- Opening a fentanyl patch to eat the gel beads
- Remnants of fentanyl patches or packaging
- Doctor shopping
- Buying fentanyl from other people
- Using someone else’s prescription fentanyl
- Empty pill bottles
- Spending time with others who also abuse fentanyl
- Isolation from loved ones
- Reduced interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Talking about fentanyl or taking fentanyl frequently
- Becoming agitated at the idea of not having fentanyl
A person who has developed an addiction to fentanyl may also have trouble in other areas of their lives, including financial trouble, relationship problems, and reduced performance at work or school.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical dependence occurs when a person slowly increases their use of drugs or alcohol. The same goes for fentanyl.
As the individual’s tolerance increases, they may take higher doses. As a result, their body and brain slowly become accustomed to taking a certain dose all the time.
When a person is physically dependent on fentanyl, they may display certain symptoms when they cut down on their drug use or stop it completely. These are known as withdrawal symptoms.
Common fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body chills and tremors
- Body hair standing on end
- Elevated heart rate
- Excessive yawning
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Increased breathing rate
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain in joints and/or muscles
- Pupil dilation
- Reduced appetite
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Sudden weight loss
- Tearing up
Withdrawal symptoms are also signs of fentanyl use and can become more severe as time progresses. Because of the discomfort of these symptoms, people who attempt to quit using opioids on their own are easily discouraged and continue their drug use to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Our Massachusetts treatment center recommends that people attempting to quit fentanyl or any other form of drug use undergo a medically monitored detox. We offer medically assisted detox treatment for all kinds of drugs and alcohol that can help you or a loved one safely overcome the withdrawal phase of recovery and improve your chances of achieving long-term sobriety.
How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Fentanyl?
Many people who are prescribed fentanyl worry about becoming dependent or addicted, and with good reason. If misused or mixed with other medications, the risk of fentanyl addiction also increases.
However, there’s no clear timeline for how long it takes to become addicted to fentanyl. Everyone is different, and the risk of addiction depends on various factors, including frequency of use, the dose that is taken, whether any other medications are taken, alcohol use, and more.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
Most people can better focus on the mental aspects of their addiction once they’ve addressed their physical dependence with opioid detox. Our inpatient drug rehab in Massachusetts offers a multidimensional approach to treating substance use disorders that starts with their root causes.
We use various treatment methods at our Clearbrook rehab to address the areas of the individual’s life that their drug use has impacted. We understand that our patients’ loved ones are also heavily impacted by the individual’s substance abuse, which is why we offer a family program to contribute to their healing, as well.
While addiction recovery has its challenges, the specialists at our Northeast addiction treatment center are here to support you every step of the way. To learn more about the addiction services we offer, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621.