Today we want to share 8 red flags of Fentanyl addiction and what you can do about them. Fentanyl is an opioid pain reliever used to manage acute and chronic pain from surgery and cancer treatment. It can also help patients who have been prescribed high doses of morphine or oxycodone yet are still experiencing pain. However, some patients develop tolerance to fentanyl and take more than what is initially prescribed.
Those who take fentanyl often become addicted to the feelings of intense euphoria and sense of relaxation that the drug gives. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more than heroin, so the relief and pleasure that the user experiences is much more heightened. The desire to maintain this euphoric state contributes to fentanyl abuse.
Just like other opioid pain relievers, fentanyl can be abused and later develop into substance use disorder. Fentanyl is fast becoming the most common drug-related overdose death in the United States. In fact, the number grew from 14.3 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2017. However, there is always hope. If you ever find yourself wanting to take more fentanyl than prescribed, or are concerned about someone abusing their prescription, you can consider contacting a rehab facility. There are numerous treatment facilities you can choose from. If you happen to be on the West Coast, you may want to look at several Arizona drug rehab facilities there.
Before you even take that step, here are some telltale signs of fentanyl abuse.
Red Flags of Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl has almost an immediate effect compared to other painkillers, which is probably why it is a popular drug to abuse. Moreover, those who want to amplify the feeling of euphoria would mix fentanyl with other drugs, making it more dangerous. This is why it is important to watch out for signs or symptoms of possible fentanyl addiction. Here are some of them:
- Having a desire to stop or cut down on using fentanyl but being unable to do so
- Craving fentanyl
- Spending a lot of time, money, and effort to get more fentanyl
- Ignoring family and work obligations
- Isolating yourself or withdrawing from social participation and activities with friends and family
- Risking your safety and that of others in acquiring the drug
- Continued use of the drug despite experiencing psychological and physical side effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when fentanyl use is stopped or lessened
Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
Fentanyl successfully blocks pain receptors in the brain and increases the production of dopamine, a chemical that induces happiness. This gives patients a high similar to one achieved using heroin. However, regular fentanyl abuse has physical and psychological effects including:
- Constant headaches
- Dizziness and fainting
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Mood swings
- Sleeping all day
- Experiencing weight gain
Over time, constant abuse could lead to more serious medical conditions such as:
- Respiratory depression
Since fentanyl is a fast-acting drug and provides an intense high, it’s easy to develop an addiction to it. The scary part is taking a higher dose of fentanyl can send you to a hospital’s emergency room because of an overdose. The good news is it can be reversed by administering naloxone. Naloxone works by blocking opioid drugs and requires multiple doses to take effect. After the last dose, you need to be monitored for a couple of hours to make sure your breathing does not slow or stop. Moreover, an overdose can still have other long-term effects on your health or worsen chronic disease.
If you experience one or more of the addiction symptoms and want to quit taking fentanyl, it is important to seek professional help as you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop. These symptoms vary depending on factors like level of use and substance form. You may experience being irritable, chills or sweating, and restlessness.
Withdrawal symptoms are normal but can also be painful to go through alone. In case you are experiencing more challenges to overcome your dependence on fentanyl, you can seek help from various treatment facilities. The treatment process is similar to treating other opioid addictions. It includes taking medication and going through behavioral therapies. The medications to take are buprenorphine and methadone. They bind the opioid receptors in the brain the same way fentanyl does but reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
While medications are being administered, it’s important to attend behavioral therapies. They can help overcome the substance abuse disorder by modifying your attitude and behavior toward drug use. They also help equip you with healthy life skills and teach you how to use medication responsibly.
If you are prescribed fentanyl as part of your pain management, you can watch out for the indications of abuse mentioned above and seek professional help if you feel like you are leaning towards that path. You have to remember that you have several treatment options available at any time.