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Blackboard with the chemical formula of FentanylFentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is extremely dangerous, and is only intended to be used for extreme pain after surgery or from a medical ailment. Individuals should only use fentanyl if prescribed from their medical doctor. You may see it in its prescription form labeled as Actiq, Duragesic, or Sublimaze. Despite many warning surrounding this drug, fentanyl abuse has been increasing in the United States and is proving to be a primary public health concern.

Fentanyl has been shown to have extremely detrimental effects on individuals and is 80 times more powerful than other prescription painkillers, such as morphine. [1] Because of its extremely dangerous effects and addictive properties, the drug is only intended to be used when administered by a medical professional because consuming the smallest dosage can kill the user.

Despite fentanyl’s powerful effects, the demand for its non-medical use has increased. When abused, fentanyl can have devastating health effects on the user. Understanding the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse is essential in the prevention and treatment for this fatal drug.

Fentanyl’s life threatening effects

Like other opioid prescription drugs, fentanyl interacts and binds to opioid receptors in the brain to help individuals relieve pain. These receptors are associated with both pain and emotions and ultimately elicit the euphoric feeling that encourages individuals to become addicted to the drug.

The use of fentanyl increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, and individuals become addicted to its euphoric benefits. However, fentanyl is extremely dangerous and also acts on the areas of the brain that control breathing. Abusing the drug can ultimately stop an individual’s ability to breathe and can cause death.[2]

Unfortunately, the immediate physical and mental relief that is elicited from the use of the drug urges users to continue to seek out the drug and can lead to a debilitating addiction.

Signs of Fentanyl Abuse

The following signs are associated with fentanyl abuse and can lead to a strong addiction to the drug:

  • Displaying drug seeking behavior and using the drug beyond its intended prescription.
  • Showing an inability to perform daily responsibilities in work, school, or home settings.
  • Experiencing a wide range of health problems associated with prescription drug use.
  • Having difficulty maintaining meaningful relationships.
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities or social relationships.
  • Using the drug to escape difficult situations or avoid problems.
  • Displaying signs of a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety.
  • Changing social groups to seek out the drug.
  • Making excuses to justify continued drug use and drug seeking behaviors.
  • Increasing the dosage of the drug and taking it more often despite the prescription label.

Symptoms of fentanyl abuse

Individuals who abuse fentanyl experience a wide range of physical and mental distress on the body. The following are the mental and mental symptoms of fentanyl abuse:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Disoriented thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

Fentanyl abuse is extremely serious and along with the multiple health consequences, will inhibit a person from completing daily life responsibilities and maintaining meaningful relationships.

Without the proper treatment that addresses the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of the individual, dependence on this drug can ultimately cause death. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse is the first step in helping you or someone you love seek a recovery program that focuses on maintaining lifelong health and abstinence. The urgency towards stopping the fentanyl epidemic is severe and suffering individuals must take immediate action to prevent an unintentional overdose.

Choosing ‘whole-person’ treatment

The American Society of Addiction Medicine says that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Choosing a treatment center that focuses on a whole-person approach and is committed to helping individuals overcome addiction is the only solution in preventing lifelong addiction and overdose.

Effective treatment for fentanyl abuse must include an individually designed treatment plan, individual and group therapy sessions, and a wide-range of program options administers hope to the individual to fully recover from their prescription drug addiction.

When choosing the right treatment center, individuals must look for a facility that focuses on the whole-person approach to helping patients fully restore their mind, body, and spirit from addiction.

Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian rehab treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond their addiction.  800-NO-ABUSE  (800) 662-2873.