24/7 Care and Support

The Signs, Symptoms, and Dangers of Fentanyl

Home » Blog » The Signs, Symptoms, and Dangers of Fentanyl

You’ve heard the statistics. 6,473 Californians died from a fentanyl overdose in 2022. You may wonder how to know if someone you love is taking the substance. Would you know the signs and dangers of fentanyl if they were appearing before you? 

At Pacific Sands, our solution-focused approach helps save many loved ones from these aspects of the substance. Today, we are going to discuss some of the signs and dangers of fentanyl you should be aware of.  

Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and morphine. It can be prescribed by a medical professional to treat severe pain or used illicitly and sold by drug dealers. 

When prescribed by a doctor, it comes as a shot, patch, or lozenge. However, in its illicit form, it may be a powder, in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or designed to look like prescription medications. 

Dealers may also combine this substance with others to make them stronger and cheaper. This practice is hazardous as the combination of substances can bring unpredictable results even if the person has done it before. When this happens, many don’t know they have consumed fentanyl because it can be challenging to detect. The only way to detect if a substance has this in it is through fentanyl test strips, which are available throughout California

People who have repeatedly consumed this substance may develop a fentanyl use disorder. This disorder often comes with intense withdrawal symptoms if the person is no longer taking the substance, and it usually dramatically impacts their life, which can lead to several changes. It may even lead to loved ones experiencing concern or worry for the safety of the person with a fentanyl use disorder. 

Fentanyl Use Disorder: Causes and Risk Factors

What causes this disorder, and who is most likely to experience it? 

Fentanyl connects to opioid receptors located in the brain,  and it can often come with pleasurable side effects such as euphoria. As the brain adapts to the substance, it wants more to receive the same impact. If it doesn’t, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. Feeling as if fentanyl has gained control over one’s life may indicate a fentanyl use disorder.

Anyone can develop this disorder if they are repeatedly taking the substance. However, certain factors may lead to someone being more likely than others. Someone who grew up in an environment where everyone was partaking in fentanyl may have an increased risk of also consuming the substance. Additionally, if someone has an untreated mental health concern, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression, they may turn to fentanyl as a way to cope. 

In some cases, people who had a physical injury and were prescribed the substance develop the disorder in the process of that healing journey. Not everyone who is prescribed this substance due to an injury will develop a fentanyl use disorder, but it can be a risk. No matter where someone’s fentanyl use disorder originates, they can find recovery. 

understanding fentanyl

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Use

A fentanyl use disorder can come with many signs and symptoms that can result in family and friends worrying about their loved ones. Below are a few of the most common changes loved ones notice in someone with a fentanyl use disorder.

Short-Term Effects of Fentanyl

The most apparent effects you or a loved one may notice when consuming fentanyl are often the short-term effects. These are the effects that occur after you take the substance, and they include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of motor skills
  • Euphoria
  • Constricted pupils
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drowsiness

Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl

Long-term side effects of fentanyl use occur when someone has been taking fentanyl for several years. They still exist after the immediate effects subside. Some of these effects may improve with proper treatment and recovery. These side effects often include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dental concerns

The Physical and Behavioral Side Effects of Fentanyl Use

When someone has been partaking in fentanyl for some time, it can have an impact on their lives. If you suspect someone you love has been taking this substance, they may experience several changes. If you go some time without seeing them, they might seem more evident than if you saw them every day. Often, these changes will make it challenging for someone with a fentanyl use disorder to function in their daily lives. Below is a chart with some of the most common changes someone might experience with fentanyl.

Physical and Behavioral Changes Associated With Fentanyl Use
Behavioral Physical Psychological
Changes in friends Changes in weight Changes in mood
Loss of job Changes in pupil size Changes in attention
Legal concerns Sores and infections Changes in memory
Changes in hobbies Poor hygiene habits Development of mental
Not being able to stop Changes in energy Restlessness

There may be other changes your loved one experiences, or they may not experience all of the ones listed above. Fentanyl use disorders are individual to each person. Many times, two people will not experience it precisely the same way, so it is essential to seek treatment tailored to you or your loved one’s unique needs. 

Is Fentanyl Dangerous? 

Fentanyl can be highly life-threatening, especially if someone is taking too much, combining it with other substances, or taking it for several years. Many times, people will continue to consume fentanyl because it produces side effects that they deem to be positive, which may overshadow any negative ones they are experiencing. 

The Risks Associated With Fentanyl Withdrawal

When someone decides to stop taking fentanyl, they will often experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. They will often not experience all of the symptoms possible, and they may experience a different combination than someone else. When people are experiencing these symptoms, they may have dangerous complications that require immediate care. Because of this, it is not recommended to try to detox on your own. Some common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Sleep concerns
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • High blood pressure
  • Yawning

Fentanyl Overdoses and How to Help

If someone is experiencing an overdose, it should not be left untreated. If you suspect an overdose is occurring, remain calm and call 911, as it is always an emergency. The person will not sleep it off. Do not hang up on the operator, as they will be able to keep the first responders updated as they head your way if any changes occur. 

In California, The Good Samaritan Law protects you and your loved one if you own paraphernalia or illicit substances while you are seeking emergency medical attention. This means you will not be charged with a crime concerning this event. 

This law also allows you to administer naloxone to reverse the effects of fentanyl temporarily. This medication does not last forever, and they may still experience overdose symptoms once it has worn off, which is why it is vital to call 911. Once at the hospital, they will have the tools necessary to reverse the overdose effectively. This medication allows you to be prepared if you or your loved one needs it in an emergency. 

Also, understanding the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose can help you indicate the need to get life-saving medical care. Below are a few of those symptoms:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Losing consciousness
  • Weak or no breathing
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Cold skin
  • Discolored lips and nails
  • Limp body

Ultimately, the best way to prevent an overdose from occurring is not to take fentanyl. However, for those with a fentanyl use disorder, that may feel like an impossible task. It doesn’t have to be. When you detox from fentanyl and participate in a treatment program, you will find lasting recovery that will save your life.

fentanyl use disorder causes and risk factors

Seeking Help for Fentanyl Addiction in California

Perhaps you have spent your whole life building up your business, which should be one of the most essential parts of your life. However, fentanyl has taken priority over everything. Maybe you’ve noticed that you are no longer attentive to your family, friends, or even the business you once loved. You know you need help, but with hundreds of rehabs in California, how can you tell which one will provide you with the care you need and deserve? 

You deserve an environment dedicated to providing adequate care focused on you as an individual. Pacific Sands has a maximum of 6 clients, and our rooms are private. This ensures that you remain at the center of your recovery and receive the tools and skills necessary to build upon your treatment. 

By participating in your recovery at Pacific Sands, you will build the foundation to discover healing. Our clinical director and primary therapist are on-site 50 hours a week, ensuring you receive the care that guarantees success. If you wish to learn more, give us a call at 949-426-7962.

Pacific Sands – The first step towards a new life.    

Leave a Reply


  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

    Andrew N.
  • As a professional in the recovery field I have worked with many detox centers and none compare to The this one. Their staff is incredibly attentive and knowledgable regarding the needs of individuals seeking recovery from the very start. Their facility is welcoming and homey while remaining very luxe. I would recommend this facility to any loved one or friend looking to start down their journey of sobriety.

  • This place helped saved my life, and a great stepping stone to get my life on the right track. Was there first client under new management, caring staff and owners, comfortable place to get you on your feet in sobriety.

  • Great Staff. Comfortable Environment. Awesome place to Get Clean and Sober. Thank you guys for everything.


    Pacific Sands Recovery Center

    1909 W Carlton Pl
    Santa Ana, CA 92704


    Ready to Start Your Journey?

    Reaching out is the first step to a new life. We’re here for you.

      © 2023 Pacific Sands Recovery Center – All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy

      24/7 Help Is Standing By, Call Us Now