Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
Authored by Dillon McClernon
Opioids are a medication that is usually prescribed to assist with pain management, especially after surgery. My aunt recently had to undergo a few procedures, and during one they gave her fentanyl to help with the pain. As she was updating us all about her health afterward, she said, “I can see how people would get addicted to that. I didn’t feel any pain.”
Have you had something like this happen to you? Afterward, have you wondered if you could try it again? Or maybe you’ve heard of friends at parties who’ve taken their normal dosage of heroin or cocaine and then suddenly overdosed. This was also probably due to fentanyl, which has been making its rounds lately. Dealers will often cut fentanyl with other substances to save money or stretch out their inventory.
Here in Indiana alone, there are about 178 opioid prescriptions given out for every 1,000 people. That’s almost equivalent to 2 out of 10 people. This means the odds of you knowing someone who currently has an opioid prescription are high.
We know how addiction works here at Recovery Centers of America. We’ve heard it all before, from surgeries to sudden overdoses, and we want to help. It’s never too late to start the journey to recovery. The importance lies in knowing when to seek help. Today we’re going to be talking about the signs of fentanyl addiction.
What Can Cause a Fentanyl Use Disorder?
Substance use and substance use disorders can stem from many sources. No individual is going to have the same experiences, nor is one person’s source going to cause someone else to also develop a substance use disorder. Even in the case of things like genetics relating to alcohol use, it does not guarantee that you will develop a drinking disorder.
One thing we do know, however, is some of the common sources behind developing a fentanyl use disorder. These can include things like unmanaged mental health conditions, loneliness, and a history of other substance use disorders.
What Is Drug-Seeking Behavior?
Oftentimes people worry that being prescribed opioids can lead to developing an opioid use disorder. It’s more complicated than this, however, as a prescription alone is rarely enough to “cause” an opioid use disorder.
When being prescribed any kind of opioid, it’s important to follow the directions laid out to you by your doctor. Do not take additional doses or higher dosages without consulting them first. If at any point during the duration of your prescription, you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to bring it up with a medical professional.
Drug-seeking behavior occurs when someone finds ways to continue their opioid prescriptions or to get new ones, for the sole purpose of having access to more opioids as opposed to medical-related reasons. This sort of behavior is normally a sign of an opioid use disorder.
The Effects of a Fentanyl Use Disorder on the Body and Mind
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than most other forms of opioids. While fentanyl is not the most commonly prescribed opioid, it does still appear often in substance use. Due to its potent nature, it doesn’t take as much for someone to feel the same effects of something like heroin.
While substance use at any level is never safe, the longer you partake in a substance the more likely you are to develop side effects. Let’s go over a few of those.
Psychological Changes from Fentanyl Use
Mental changes regarding opioid use are not as common as some other side effects. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist, however. Additionally, for those managing a substance use disorder, it’s not uncommon for them to have already been managing mental health prior to their substance use.
Sometimes, the situations surrounding substance use can also contribute to mental health.
Anxiety and depression are two side effects that can occur in those partaking in fentanyl. This can mean enhancing mental health concerns that already existed or being the cause of them. Less commonly, people might experience things like hallucinations, confusion, or decreased sexual desire.
For a loved one who might be going through this, you could notice behavioral changes such as reclusiveness, self-loathing comments, increased concern over events or people that wouldn’t have bothered them before, moments where they seem lost or dazed, talking about or to things that aren’t there or didn’t happen, and more.
Physical Changes from Fentanyl Use
Substances, though taken internally, can have long-lasting effects on our physical bodies both inside and out. The list of side effects that physically affect a person is far longer than the psychological side effects. Here are just a handful of them:
- Weight loss
- Chest and back pain
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
- Weakness or dizziness
- Hives, rashes, or itching
Behavioral Signs of Fentanyl Use
If you’re unable to pinpoint the physical and mental side effects that someone is experiencing, what about behavioral changes that come with a fentanyl use disorder?
When someone’s substance use becomes a substance use disorder, this normally means it’s reached a point where it greatly impacts their life as a whole. It’s not uncommon for people with SUDs to be unable to reduce their use or stop on their own. Addiction is a disease and it requires proper treatment to address.
Someone who is trying to manage a fentanyl use disorder might start to act more reclusive. They might choose to miss out on events or hobbies that they used to enjoy. Substance use can also impact family, friends, and even job environments.
Risk Factors Related to Fentanyl Use Disorders
Anytime someone is participating in consuming illicit substances, there is always risk involved. Whether it’s just from the side effects of the substance, or even from the contents of the substance itself, the risk is there.
We already talked about the various side effects you can develop from using fentanyl, but there’s more to it than that. According to the CDC over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. This can occur for many different reasons.
For those who are aware that they’re taking fentanyl, they might feel the need to consume more over time in order to experience the same effects. Our bodies can only handle so much of any substance before it becomes overwhelming. Regardless of the effects they’re feeling, they could reach this threshold easily due to fentanyl’s potent nature.
The other overdose risk comes from those who are unaware that they’re even consuming fentanyl.
Fentanyl is often cut or laced with other substances like heroin, meth, or cocaine in order to save dealers on costs. This addition, however, is rarely disclosed to those who are purchasing these substances. Due to its potency, people can unknowingly take their regular dosage and face severe consequences because of it like overdosing.
Fentanyl Withdrawal and Overdose Symptoms
People with a history of substance use are far more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms or accidentally fentanyl overdose when partaking in substances.
Withdrawal occurs when the body is used to having a substance like fentanyl regularly in its system. When someone stops taking a substance, even for a short period of time, the body can react leading to withdrawal and its symptoms.
From 2019 to 2020, opioid overdose-related emergency room visits here in Indiana increased by over 2,000 people. Luckily, not all overdoses are fatal if addressed properly. In order to know how to react, however, you first need to know how to identify a fentanyl overdose.
If you notice someone showcasing any of the following symptoms, don’t be afraid to seek medical help. Because of the Good Samaritan Law in Indiana, you will not be in legal trouble for seeking medical help for an overdose.
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Fainting or limpness of the body
- Extreme/sudden drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Cold or clammy skin
- Pinpoint pupil dilation
Get Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction in Indiana
If you or a loved one is looking to start your healing journey from fentanyl use, you’re in the right place. Here at Recovery Centers of America (RCA), we know that recovery is always possible. With our fentanyl addiction treatment program, backed by clinical excellence through research and feedback, we make sure to treat the source in order to help clients reach their long-term goals.
Sometimes the desire to recover isn’t enough and other things get in the way, like insurance or transportation. We try our best to break down as many barriers to recovery as possible because we believe that everyone should have access to good recovery programs that work for them. We’re in network with most insurances. We also offer to drive patients to and from the hospital within a 2-hour radius. Our admissions are open 24/7 and we work with hospitals to make any transitions from there to our facility as smooth and painless as possible.
Our facility offers more than just our core treatment program. We know that addiction can affect more than just one facet of someone’s life. We also offer family counseling, nutrition guidance, alumni support, fitness, and case management to help plan for long-term recovery.
If you have any questions about our programming, from detox to outpatient, our staff is always happy to help. You can reach us at 1-800-RECOVERY or by simply walking through our doors, any time of day.
FAQs About the Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
Which of the following are signs of addiction to fentanyl?
If you notice things like shaking, weight loss, confusion, seclusion, or sudden changes in behavior, these can be signs of a fentanyl use disorder.
What are the telltale signs of fentanyl?
Fentanyl isn’t always easy to detect in other substances. There are fentanyl test strips available in some states in order to help you check for it.
When do you feel the effects of fentanyl?
Depending on consumption, fentanyl’s effects can be felt in as little as 30 minutes after consumption.