Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous, potent drug that impacts people all over the nation. Despite its ubiquity, there are still many misconceptions surrounding the drug, and individuals may even be taking the drug while wholly unaware of it.
Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of fentanyl, as well as understand why it is so dangerous, is the first step in taking decisive action towards a healthy lifestyle free from the drug. As fentanyl continues to become more common and dangerous across the United States, it is more important than ever to be able to identify and seek help for overcoming an addiction to fentanyl.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. While it is used in certain circumstances in dedicated medical settings for managing extreme pain, such as late-stage cancer, it is still a highly addictive drug with lasting effects on the brain and body. While morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are already prevalent opioids, fentanyl can be even more destructive, with potency ranging between 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. With such an intense effect on the body and mind, fentanyl has found its way to the illicit market, either to increase the effects of the high of other drugs or by being cut into other drugs to exacerbate their addictive properties.
The Dangers of Fentanyl
The use of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has been extremely damaging to those suffering from addiction. It can commonly lead to overdose and the risk of death due to its potency. That has not stopped its spread as a part of the opioid epidemic, with an increase in opioid overdose deaths up 56% from 2019 to 2020. In all, some 56,000 people have died from opioid overdose in 2020 alone.
The statistics of overdose do not account for the myriad of other ways in which fentanyl can be incredibly destructive, impacting every aspect of a person’s life. These human costs of addiction are just as important to consider when determining the widespread ramifications of fentanyl. Identifying the use of fentanyl is essential in combatting the use of opioids. Doing so can help individuals take the crucial first step towards a dedicated recovery program.
Signs of Fentanyl Use
Recognizing the signs of fentanyl use is the first step in the path toward change. With fentanyl being able to be combined or substituted with other illicit drugs, an individual may be exposed to fentanyl without knowing it. From having fentanyl cut into heroin in order to exacerbate its effects to being used in marijuana, fentanyl can be a destructive part of one’s life without them even knowing.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of fentanyl can help those inadvertently exposed to the drug as well as those who knowingly suffer from it. Being able to spot the signs of fentanyl will help individuals both combat addiction and the threat of overdose.
Some of the immediate signs of fentanyl use include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness or lethargy
- Compromised motor skills
- Irregular breathing patterns
- Constricted pupils
- Decreased reaction time
There are many long-term effects of fentanyl that will continue to affect an individual long after the immediate high has subsided. Some of the continued effects of fentanyl include:
- Mood swings
- Isolationist tendencies
- Disregard for personal hygiene
- Avoiding or dismissing responsibilities
- Calling out of work or skipping classes
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Disinterest in previous hobbies
- Self-harm ideology
An individual does not necessarily have to exhibit all of these symptoms in order to indicate a dangerous relationship with fentanyl. Noticing some combination of these signs and symptoms can help facilitate a conversation. Considering how dangerous and potent fentanyl is, combined with the fact that an individual may be using the drug concurrently with other substances, taking action to address fentanyl use as quickly as possible is crucial for one’s health.
Taking a Step Toward Change
There is no easy way to overcome an addiction to fentanyl, and professional help is necessary for an effective recovery. The most important first step individuals can take is to check into a dedicated detox program. Trained professionals that are educated on how to help individuals adjust to new lifestyles without the drug, while helping to cope with the uncomfortable and intense withdrawal symptoms that may be present, is crucial to successful recovery.
There is no substitute for professional care. The extremely potent nature of fentanyl can make breaking through addiction and reclaiming a sober lifestyle more difficult without the proper support. No one is ever beyond help. Dedicated detox programs, combined with professional and personal support, are necessary to tackle an addiction to fentanyl.
Fentanyl’s continued spread and dangerous effects demand attention and action, and we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center are prepared to help you or a loved one begin your journey toward overcoming an addiction to fentanyl, or any other type of drug or alcohol. Located in beautiful Santa Ana, CA, we champion the individual experiences, goals, and perspectives of each client. We will create a recovery plan that is catered to your unique goals while tending to your needs and experiences. There is no one path to a sober future, but our supportive community of peers and caring professionals work in tandem to create a unique atmosphere of support and change. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or for more information on our detox, residential, and outpatient programs, call to speak with us today at (949) 426-7962.