Know the Red Flags of Fentanyl and Find Effective Support
The opioid epidemic is a growing problem in the United States, with millions of Americans suffering from Fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl use and substance use, in general, has gotten so bad that The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a surveillance system – The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) – to monitor substance-related emergency room visits in terms of demographics and geography, as well as detect new harmful substances. It provides an early warning system for new substances on the market. Knowing the signs of fentanyl use on your own helps to serve as an early warning if a loved one has begun taking this powerful painkiller.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug sometimes used to treat severe pain, has become increasingly popular in the illegal drug market. This drug is potent, ten times stronger than morphine, and can cause a fatal overdose, even in small amounts.
Recognizing the signs of fentanyl abuse in someone you care about can mean the difference between life and death. To learn more about fentanyl use and how Icarus Behavioral Health can help provide effective substance abuse treatment, keep reading.
What is Fentanyl?
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is estimated to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Illicit fentanyl, including carfentanyl and other forms of the drug, can be even more powerful and deadly.
Despite its intended medical use to alleviate severe pain, it has also become a highly abused drug due to its intense and rapid effects. People often obtain fentanyl illegally and it is abused through various routes of administration, such as snorting, smoking, or injecting.
Due to its potency, the risk of overdose and death is significantly high. What’s even more troubling is that fentanyl is sometimes mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, without the user’s knowledge, further increasing the potential for a deadly outcome.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction?
Knowing the signs of fentanyl abuse can help you or a loved one seek help before it’s too late. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of fentanyl use disorder:
Physical Signs of Fentanyl Use
Fentanyl addiction can cause a range of physical symptoms, such as pinpoint pupils, drowsiness, slurred speech, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. You may also notice sudden weight loss, changes in appetite, or chronic respiratory problems, such as wheezing or coughing. Track marks or bruises on the arms from the injection are another sign that someone may abuse fentanyl.
It’s also common for fentanyl users to “nod out,” where they essentially fall asleep standing up or in the middle of a conversation.
Another common sign of fentanyl use disorder includes behavioral symptoms. For instance, the person may become more secretive or isolated, and they may have trouble keeping up with regular activities. You may also notice that they start to neglect personal hygiene, relationships, or work/school commitments.
Fentanyl addiction can also cause a range of psychological changes that can be difficult to manage. For instance, the person may experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, or sudden bursts of euphoria. They may also have trouble concentrating or making decisions, or they may have trouble sleeping.
Fentanyl addiction can also have a significant impact on a person’s social life. The person may begin to spend more time with a new group of friends or distance themselves from family and trusted support systems. This can lead to financial problems, job loss, legal troubles, or relationship conflicts.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms: A Clear Sign of Use
Withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl usually begin within 6-12 hours to a day after the last dose and can last for several days to a few weeks. Common physical symptoms can include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and goosebumps
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
Although the physical symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, the emotional and mental symptoms of enduring the typical fentanyl withdrawal timeline can be just as challenging. These can include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Depression and sadness
- Irritability and agitation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cravings for the drug
Fentanyl Overdose: How to Avoid Tragedy
A fentanyl overdose can be fatal when used in excessive doses, often leading to overdose deaths. The drug works by depressing the central nervous system, which can lead to respiratory depression and ultimately, death.
The signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include confusion, dizziness, extreme sleepiness, shallow breathing, blue lips and nails, pinpoint pupils, and a slow heartbeat. In severe cases, the person can slip into a coma or suffer permanent brain damage or death.
What to Do in Case of Fentanyl Overdose
If you suspect that an overdose occurs, whether it’s fentanyl, other opioids, or any other type of drug, it is important to act quickly and get immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately to get emergency medical help. Make sure they know that fentanyl abuse played a role in what’s going on.
Stay with the person until help arrives and monitor their breathing, pulse, and consciousness level.
Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse
If you or a loved one is suffering from fentanyl addiction or any other opioid use disorder, seeking treatment is the first step toward recovery.
Detox: The first phase of treatment for fentanyl abuse is detox. This is where the body is cleansed of all traces of the drug. This can last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the duration and severity of the addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms can be intense during detoxification, which is why it’s best to seek professional help. Under our medically supervised detox setting, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment provides round-the-clock care by a team of healthcare professionals and typically includes individual and group therapy sessions, medical assessment and monitoring, and relapse prevention education. The length of inpatient treatment can vary from 28 days to several months, depending on the individual’s needs.
Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment programs are best suited for individuals who have completed detoxification and don’t require intensive medical care. Outpatient care offers a flexible schedule that allows the individual to attend therapy sessions while still maintaining their work or home life.
Some outpatient programs may involve daily attendance, while others may only require weekly or biweekly sessions. The duration of outpatient treatment can range from several months to a year, depending on the individual’s progress. If fentanyl abuse continues during outpatient, it may be necessary to seek a higher level of care.
Aftercare: Aftercare is an essential part of the recovery process. After completing treatment, individuals must develop coping skills and strategies to maintain sobriety. Aftercare programs can include weekly support groups, one-on-one counseling, 12 step meetings, and ongoing medical monitoring. Regular check-ins with a primary care physician, psychiatrist, or addiction specialist can also help prevent relapse.
Get a Loved One Help with Fentanyl Use Now
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we understand the challenges of fentanyl addiction and other substance use disorders. We offer personalized treatment plans that are tailored to your unique needs, so you can be sure that you’re getting the help you need to beat your addiction for good.
Our team of experts includes licensed therapists, addiction specialists, and medical professionals who are dedicated to helping you overcome your addiction. We use evidence-based therapies to ensure that you get the best possible care. Some of the services we offer include detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment.
Icarus programs also focus on mental health conditions and co-occurring disorders when needed. We understand that beating addiction is a long and difficult journey, but it’s one that you don’t have to face alone. Contact Icarus Behavioral Health today.
All calls to our facility are confidential, so reach out now to get options today!