Home » Fentanyl Addiction » Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Use
Fentanyl is the primary driver of the third wave of the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Data from NSDUH 2020 shows that 356,000 over-12s in the United States misused fentanyl prescriptions in the previous year. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), this does not account for those abusing IMF (illicitly manufactured fentanyl.)
This guide highlights the many physical and mental signs of fentanyl use.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a fully synthetic opioid that is structurally similar to morphine but 100 times stronger.
As a prescription drug, Fentanyl is available in the following branded forms:
First synthesized as a pain reliever, fentanyl is still prescribed to treat severe pain following surgery. The medication is also sometimes prescribed to treat chronic pain in patients tolerant to opioids. The four-hour half-life of fentanyl renders it highly suitable for recovery from sedation and analgesia.
It is due to these accepted medical uses that fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act regulated by the DEA. All drugs in this schedule have some legitimate medical uses, but they also have a high potential for both abuse and addiction. Other substances classified under Schedule II include Ritalin and Adderall – ADHD stimulant medications – meth, methadone, and cocaine.
Over the past decade, fentanyl has increasingly spilled over onto the black market. As of 2020, synthetic opioids are associated with the most drug overdoses in the United States, per NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse).
While some legally prescribed fentanyl is diverted to abuse, the main problem lies with the large-scale manufacture of fentanyl in underground labs.
In addition to these issues, Mexican drug cartels are using fentanyl as a cheap cutting agent for heroin. Fentanyl is not only cheaper to produce and easier to obtain than heroin, but the potency of the drug means those using the drug run an even higher risk of overdose.
There are many physical side effects associated with fentanyl use. If you abuse this drug, these effects are likely to present with greater severity. The most common of these adverse outcomes include:
If you have a loved one that you suspect is abusing fentanyl, look out for the following behavioral indicators:
Abusing fentanyl long-term can trigger many severe complications, both physical and mental.
Note: if fentanyl is used in combination with other illicit drugs like heroin that act as CNS (central nervous system) depressants, there is an increased risk of:
The most common and most dangerous symptoms of fentanyl abuse come in the form of addiction (clinically described as opioid use disorder, a type of substance use disorder).
The sustained use of fentanyl causes tolerance to form rapidly. When this occurs, you will need more fentanyl or more frequent doses to achieve the initial effects. Tolerance is a diagnostic criteria of fentanyl addiction. By continuing with these abusive patterns of consumption, physical dependence on fentanyl is liable to develop. If this happens, withdrawal symptoms will manifest in the absence of fentanyl. Addiction often but not always follows.
Addiction is diagnosed using the criteria outlined in DSM-5-TR, the most recent edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a diagnostic tool widely used within the addiction treatment and mental health communities.
DSM-5 lists eleven possible symptoms of substance use disorder. The more of these symptoms that present, the more severe the substance use disorder. A diagnosis of substance use disorder requires the emergence of at least two symptoms during any given year.
In addition to substance use disorder, DSM-5-TR also recognized opioid use disorder (OUD). Someone suffering fentanyl addiction, then, would likely be diagnosed with severe opioid use disorder.
Fentanyl addiction signs include:
Although fentanyl addiction is a chronic and incurable condition like all opioid use disorders, it nevertheless responds favorably to evidence-based treatment. We can help you with that here at Gratitude Lodge.
If you are addicted to fentanyl, we can help you initiate a sustained recovery at Gratitude Lodge. We have affordable fentanyl addiction treatment centers located in San Diego, Long Beach, and Newport Beach. All treatment facilities offer supervised medical detox programs, 30-day inpatient programs, and intensive outpatient programs.
Those addicted to fentanyl can take advantage of a streamlined supervised detoxification. Clinical and emotional care is available around the clock to mitigate complications during withdrawal and to minimize the likelihood of relapse in early recovery. The treatment team may administer medications approved by the FDA for reducing the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Fentanyl addiction typically responds well to pharmacological interventions, meaning that MAT (medication-assisted treatment) may be beneficial not only during detox, but also during ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment. MAT is most effective when combined with behavioral therapies, such as:
When you are ready to move from active fentanyl addiction into ongoing recovery, build the firmest foundation here at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. Call 888-861-1658 today for immediate assistance.