Every year, the opioid epidemic gets worse. There are more and more people dying from an overdose, and the numbers continue to rise. Opioid overdoses used to be almost completely attributable to heroin users, but these days, deaths due to prescription opioid painkillers are on the rise. One such medication is fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful medication used for treating pain, often for patients who have just had surgery or to treat the chronic pain of cancer.
What is Fentanyl?
The prescription drug fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s considered a Schedule II opioid drug and it has a high risk of abuse. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic used for acute and chronic pain. It isn’t only prescription fentanyl that is risky for users, it’s also illegally made forms of the drug. In fact, most fentanyl-related harm, overdoses, and deaths these days comes from the illicit forms. On top of that, street fentanyl is often mixed with heroin, cocaine, or both, sometimes without the user’s knowledge, to provide an even higher euphoric effect.
Because of its potency, fentanyl has a high potential for overdose. Additionally, it can lead to some serious short- and long-term medical issues when it’s misused. Fentanyl abuse and overdose can be fatal, so it is crucial that patients taking it understand the risks of abuse and overdose so they can be treated as soon as possible, in the event that they occur.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction?
There are some telltale signs that users of fentanyl may exhibit when they are abusing the drug. Some of those signs and symptoms include:
- Euphoria, sense of well-being
- Extreme relaxation, even up to sedation
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, and confusion
- Confusion, inability to follow a train of thought
- Stomach problems, including nausea, vomiting, and constipation
- Increased tolerance to the drug
- Respiratory arrest
- Withdrawal symptoms if the drug is decreased or stopped
- Drug-seeking behavior
It’s sometimes hard to recognize fentanyl abuse, but when there are multiple signs present, it may be a case of abuse or addiction.
What Are the Effects of Fentanyl?
There are both short-term and long-term effects of using fentanyl. While these effects don’t always occur, they can even when fentanyl is used as prescribed.
Fentanyl provides users with a high that is similar to that of heroin, including:
- Euphoric feelings
- Reduced pain
- Slowed breathing
- Altered heart rate
- Constricted pupils
Some of the long-term effects you may see in fentanyl abusers are behavioral, which may mean the person shows signs of poor judgment and decision-making in personal and work situations.
Additionally, with continuing fentanyl abuse you may:
- Increase the risk of overdose and death
- Increase the risk of anoxic injury (damage that occurs when there is a lack of oxygen in body tissues) and damage to various organ systems
- Cause or worsen mental health issues, like depression and severe mood swings
- Cause harm to personal relationships
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?
There are various factors that impact how long it takes your body to rid itself of fentanyl. The timeframe depends on:
- Amount of fentanyl taken
- How long fentanyl has been used
- How the fentanyl was taken (pill, injected, lozenges, patches, etc.)
- Genetic makeup of the user
- Overall health of the user
- History of drug use
Fentanyl that is administered by injection is typically out of your system faster than if you use lozenges or a patch. IV fentanyl usually takes about 24 hours to be out of the body, depending on the factors above. The other methods of administration can take up to two days to leave your system. However, that doesn’t mean that your withdrawal symptoms will be gone as quickly. Because your body is working to recalibrate itself without having fentanyl in its system, withdrawal symptoms can last much longer.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl Like?
The symptoms of withdrawal from fentanyl are similar to those of other opioids – uncomfortable and painful. It isn’t a good idea to try to detox from fentanyl on your own. Not only does that make it easy to relapse to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, but it can also be unsafe. It’s always best to detox in a medically supervised setting.
Some of the typical withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl include:
- Chills and fever
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Severe body aches
- Stomach cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety and panic attacks
Getting Help for Fentanyl Addiction
Detox from fentanyl is the first step toward recovery. But you will likely need to continue on to inpatient addiction treatment, which is your best bet for long-lasting recovery. At My Time Recovery, we are here for you and ready to help. Contact us to get started on your recovery today.