Over the last few years fentanyl has steadily arisen as the new face of the opioid epidemic in America. Fueled by the cheap cost of production, highly addictive nature of the drug itself, and the wild demand from the market, fentanyl is now one of the deadliest drugs around. According to the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, “currently, more than 67% of drug overdoses involve fentanyl”. What are the signs of fentanyl addiction? If you know someone who is struggling, it’s important to know.
Fentanyl Addiction Sign 1: Physical Symptoms & Behavior Changes
A dependence on drugs of any sort will usually involve significant changes in behavior and physical appearance if continued long enough. Sometimes these changes are immediate. If you notice an individual frequently nodding off or falling asleep, chronic drowsiness, sudden lapses into unconsciousness, or an inability to maintain eye contact and conversation, this may be a sign of fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl is a powerful pain reliever and sedative and use can often render the individual nearly comatose. Furthermore, pinpoint pupils and shallow or slowed breathing can be a classic sign of opioid use. Behaviorally, those in the grips of fentanyl use can become socially withdrawn, neglect day-to-day responsibilities, personal hygiene, finances and become obsessed with the getting and using of more drugs. Fentanyl is most commonly snorted, smoked or injected. As such, sinus problems, burns on the mouth or hands, and scabs or scars around common injection sites (inside elbow, hands, and arms) can be indicative of fentanyl addiction.
Fentanyl Addiction Sign 2: Tolerance & Withdrawal Symptoms
Another recognizable sign of addiction is the development of a tolerance to the drug of choice. As the use of fentanyl continues over time, individuals require greater and greater amounts to achieve the same effect. Alongside tolerance comes drug dependence. This is when the neurons in the brain adapt to the presence of fentanyl and are no longer able to function properly without it. This is what leads to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from sweating, chills, nausea, and vomiting to muscle and bone pain, restlessness, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Symptoms can vary widely on their severity based on the amounts being taken and how long a person has been using. Fentanyl is extremely lipophilic meaning it binds to the fat cells in the body. This causes fentanyl withdrawal to come on much quicker than other opioids and the duration to last longer and be more severe. Seeking the support of medical professionals for the management of fentanyl withdrawal is highly recommended.
Fentanyl Addiction Sign 3: Personal Issues
When tolerance and a dependence on fentanyl takes hold of an individual, they are thoroughly caught up in the grip of addiction. More often than not, this manifests in prioritizing the obtaining and using of fentanyl above all else. You may witness a person give up on any and everything that stands in the way of using - including jobs, family and friends, and their health. As consequences pile up, they withdraw further into isolation, and the cost of their addiction rises, they may result in stealing and crime to fund their habit. It’s not uncommon for a fentanyl addict, without help to stop, to erode their entire personal, professional and financial life down to nothing. Recognizing these red flags early is essential as they serve as the canary in the coal mine to prevent further decline. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, getting professional help is the best option to save their lives.
Fentanyl addiction is a serious illness and the consequences of letting it go untreated can be fatal. At the very least, it will destroy everything and everyone around it. Maintaining an awareness of the physical and behavioral changes, understanding tolerance and withdrawal, and being aware of how relationships and responsibilities are being managed can be key to stopping the progression early. As the use of fentanyl continues to rise, Sunflower Recovery Center is dedicated to being a beacon of hope. If you know someone struggling with fentanyl addiction, call us today for more information on how our dedicated, professional staff can help. Our program is well versed in the delicate nature of fentanyl addiction and treatment and can provide you with the tools necessary to live a life free from addiction.